A young Island duck hunter had a close call while waterfowling off Pecoy Point on Sengekontacket Pond in Oak Bluffs Saturday morning, after he fell into the frigid water.
Christopher Mayhew, 18, went out in a canoe wearing waders after a crippled duck on the ice. On the way, the canoe flipped, sending him and his shotgun into the water, according to Environmental Police Sergeant Kevin Clayton.
Mr. Mayhew managed to shed his waders and began struggling towards shore. David Andrews, his hunting companion, went in after him and brought him to shore, according to the police report.
Oak Bluffs police and EMTs received the call at 9:19 am, Saturday morning, of a man in the water. When they arrived, Mr. Mayhew and Mr. Andrews were driving out of the area on their way to the hospital. Mr. Mayhew, according to the police report, had stripped most of his wet clothes off in an attempt to warm up.
“He was soaking wet and freezing cold, so it was a very scary situation,” Fire Chief and EMT John Rose told The Times. Both men were treated and released at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
“He is a very lucky young man, exceedingly lucky,” Sergeant Clayton told The Times. “And I told him that.”
Sergeant Clayton said anyone involved in outdoor recreation needs to take proper safety precautions and do their homework. He stressed the importance of always wearing a life jacket when on the water.
According to Coast Guard accident statistics, 20 percent of people die within the first minute of cold water immersion due to the cold water gasp, in which persons ingest water, panic, and drown.
Division of Fisheries and Wildlife regulations require that anyone aboard a canoe or kayak must wear a life jacket or vest from Sept. 15 to May 15.