2017-02-16 / Front Page

Heroic act receives recognition

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Trio who rescued girl from icy lake recall event
Senior Staff Writer

WATERBORO — The three men credited for rescuing a 16-year-old girl from the icy waters of Little Ossipee Lake two week ago really don’t like being labeled “heroes” very much.

“The word hero doesn’t feel right,” said Brandon Jackson, one of the trio who used a rope to pull the girl to safety on Wednesday.

“That’s a word for first responders,” said Bill Rodgers. “You give assistance when you can.”

They, along with Taylor Dion, were out on the lake — Rodgers and Dion were ice fishing while Jackson was riding his ATV — on Saturday Feb 4. It was about 18 degrees Fahrenheit, and the wind was blowing.

Rodgers and Dion each have an ice fishing shack on the lake, near the boat ramp off Route 5, where they drill holes through the ice and fish for salmon and trout.

All of a sudden, they saw a snowmobile across the lake — Rodgers estimates it was about 300-400 yards away. It was moving toward open water. As they watched, they saw that the operator managed to clear the open water, but he stopped the sled and ran back. They knew something was terribly wrong. The operator went into the icy water not once, but twice, and was preparing to shed his heavy outerwear and go in for a third time as the men sprang into action. They realized there was someone in the water — that someone  had fallen off the back of the snowmobile.

Dion grabbed a coil of rope from his ice fishing shack and the trio made their way across the lake on ATVs, venturing close to where the ice began to thin. Jackson video taped most of the rescue — he regularly wears a go-pro camera on his helmet when riding his ATV. The video shows the men throwing the line. The operator snatches it and throws it to the girl in the water.

“Get it,  get it,”  Rodgers says to the girl. “Hold on tight. Kick, kick.”

Then, as she grasps the rope with both hands, she is pulled out of the water, and is sliding across the ice.

Rodgers said they picked her up and drove her by ATV to his ice fishing shack where they wrapped her in blankets and got her as close to the heater as they could. Waterboro Fire & Rescue, York County Sheriff’s deputies and Maine Wardens  arrived soon after.

The girl is recovering, and through a family member said she just wants to put the experience behind her. But she has offered up her thanks to Rodgers, Jackson and Dion and to the operator of the ATV.

York County Sheriff Bill King said there was open water on the lake that day, despite the cold temperatures, because of an underground spring in that particular area. He urged people to be cautious.

“We want people to have fun, but stay within the safe areas,” he said.

Rodgers, who operates Bill’s Automotive in Old Orchard Beach, said he’s been at accident scenes before, but never something like the incident on the lake.

The trio said others helped too, folks like Keegan Chase and Eric Proach, who later went and retrieved the snowmobile.

The three told their story Wednesday to producers of ABC’s "Good Morning America" — the segment was scheduled  to air this morning.

As for their own involvement in the situation, well, they’re rather modest, and matter of fact.

“It just worked out,” Jackson said. 

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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