SABATTUS, Maine — It was a terrifying day on the water Tuesday for Corey Bouchard and two of his friends. They were kayaking on Sabattus Pond when the weather took a turn for the worse, and their kayaks capsized.
"I was praying that they would get to us before it's too late," said Bouchard.
Bouchard and his two friends were in inflatable kayaks and as winds picked up, the kayaks became swamped.
"Thankfully, I had my phone in one of these waterproof cases around my neck, so I was able to pull that out and call 9-1-1," said Bouchard.
Sabattus Fire Rescue received the call at 12:53 PM, promptly responding with four staff, beginning their search in the choppy water by 1:11 PM, according to Sabattus Fire Chief Troy Cailler.
According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Game Wardens launched from Martins Point on the east shore of the pond and located the third man floating in the cold water at 1:33. All three had life jackets on, and were returned to shore shortly before 2:00 PM.
The rescue was also assisted by the Wales Fire Department, the Sabattus Police Department and United Ambulance.
Bouchard says after he was rescued, he 'blacked out' and came to later being treated at Central Maine Medical Center. The three men were all treated and released.
"A lot of places just lost ice. Water temperatures, if there isn't any ice are in the 40s," said Mark Latti, MDIFW communications director. "If you fall in the water, you're not going to last long. Wearing a life jacket gives you a chance to survive. And that's exactly what we saw."
Bouchard says he and his friends did not check the weather forecast before going kayaking in Sabattus Pond. He added if he did check, and saw the inclement weather he wouldn't have gone.
Now he wants to give his thanks to rescuers once it's safe again to do so. "When this is all over, I would love to shake your hand. We literally owe you our lives," said Bouchard.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is now urging all boaters to be prepared, and know the risks before leaving shore. Latti says the key things to do are wear your life jacket, stay within your limits, don't go far from home, let friends know where you're going, and check the weather.
While Maine's stay-at-home order does allow for kayaking and other activities, those are things you should only be doing with members of your own household, something Bouchard and his friends didn't do. You should also be staying six feet apart from others to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
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