HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A dangerously close call for a Long Island man who was duck hunting and suddenly found himself stuck in freezing cold water for an hour.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday, he managed to make one phone call that saved his life.
Duck hunters flock to the Town of Hempstead, known for the concentration of water fowl there.
But on Jan. 10, the sport nearly claimed one of their lives.
“My first thoughts were, I thought I wasn’t going to see my wife and kid again. I just had to quickly snap out of that mindset and, basically, turn on into survival mode,” he said.
Bill’s phone, which had been submerged, was somehow able to make one call to 911. But rescuers still didn’t have his exact location.
“We had lost communication with him and the search area could have potentially been extremely large,” said Orazio Taddeo, a Town of Hempstead bay constable.
“When we arrived, he was on the marsh waving us down,” said Sal Mastracchio, a Town of Hempstead bay constable. “He was shaking and we got him onto the boat, and as quickly as we could got him back to the shoreline.”
Bill was drenched. His body temperature was alarmingly low.
“I would say a little longer and he would have succumbed to hypothermia,” said Taddeo.
“I believe we prevented a catastrophe,” said Mastracchio.
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Hunters are required this time of year to wear live vests, which Bill did have on. But he admits there are lessons learned.
“Never hunt alone, use a safe vessel,” he said. “Always try to keep your phone, any kind of means of communication, dry.”
“A Kayak is always an unstable craft, more so when you are hunting from it,” said Taddeo.
Bill said he’s sharing his story to give thanks to the first responders who got to him just in time.
“I had an angel and them watching over me,” he said. “They were able to get me back to my wife and kid.”
Hempstead bay constables typically rescue several hunters and fisherman each winter, when the water is frigid and the daylight needed to rescue a stranded person is dangerously limited.