ORLANDO, Fla. – Being a TowBoatUS towing captain means you spend a lot of time on the water assisting recreational boaters with routine issues like breakdowns or running aground. It also means that when boaters are in grave trouble, there is no hesitation to help. Seven captains who acted as good Samaritans to save lives in 2019 were recently honored by their peers at a ceremony held at the annual BoatUS Towing Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Jan. 23.
The captains serve TowBoatUS on-water towing locations in Jacksonville, Florida; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Racine, Wisconsin; Lake Allatoona, Georgia; Block Island, Rhode Island; St. Joseph, Michigan; San Francisco, California; and Ventura, California.
Woody Pollack Lifesaving Award
- Capt. Scott Stebleton, TowBoatUS Jacksonville, Florida: With cold temperatures, two teens started to lose their ability to grasp as they clung to each other aboard an overturned 14-foot boat. Capt. Stebleton was able to quickly locate the boys and bring them to awaiting EMTs.
Meritorious Service Awards
- Capt. Nick Triplett, TowBoatUS Grand Strand, South Carolina: After a personal watercraft (PWC) accident left a man head down, unconscious and bleeding in the water, Capt. Triplett assisted first responders in quickly locating and bringing the man safely to shore.
- Capt. Fred Stritt, TowBoatUS Racine, Wisconsin: On one of the local weekly race nights, a sailboat captain showed signs of a heart attack. Capt. Stritt was able to greatly expedite rescue and cut down time on the “golden hour” by racing the man to shore, ensuring prompt medical attention and, ultimately, full recovery.
- Capt. Chris Day, TowBoatUS Lake Allatoona, Georgia: As flooding devastated his local community, Capt. Day helped his neighbors locate and retrieve property from floodwaters. On his way home, Day safely removed a woman, wet and showing effects of hypothermia, from a flooded, disabled 4×4 vehicle.
- Capt. Robert DiSanto, TowBoatUS Block Island, Rhode Island: With first responders, Capt. DiSanto raced to the scene of a double carbon monoxide poisoning, then safely put the subject vessel into a hip tow, quickly returning the injured to port for awaiting medical assistance.
- Capt. Mike Shine, TowBoatUS St. Joseph, Michigan: With the unique ability to provide high-resolution sonar, Capt. Shine volunteered to locate a drowning victim who had fallen off a local marina dock and never resurfaced.
- Capt. Kevin Conrad, TowBoatUS San Francisco, California: A married couple rented PWCs for the afternoon, but only one returned. When the husband raised the alarm, Capt. Conrad quickly found the lost rider, safely returning her to her husband.
- Capt. Paul Amaral, TowBoatUS Ventura, California: When a tragic fire broke out on 75-foot dive boat, Capt. Amara raced to the scene, tossing a grappling hook over her bow, putting the inferno in tow to allow firefighters critical access, then assisted with search and recovery.