CANAAN — A Clinton man was rescued from the water Wednesday morning at Lake George Regional Park after his boat capsized about 50 yards from shore.

Park director Jeff McCabe and park ranger Derek Ellis said they pulled 66-year-old Llewellyn Ryder from the water after McCabe, the Legislature’s Democratic House majority leader, heard him hollering for help. Ellis commandeered a personal watercraft from a nearby camp to get to Ryder.

Medical personnel checked Ryder at the scene on the Canaan side of the lake and a game warden interviewed him.

Asked what he was doing in the small jon boat — a 10-foot, shallow, flat-bottomed boat — on choppy water, Ryder said, “Swimming, I guess.”

He was not hospitalized and was not charged with a crime.

Peter Clark, assistant chief for Canaan Fire and Rescue, said Ryder appeared to have been in the 70-degree water for about 10 minutes. Clark said Ryder was cold but otherwise OK.

“He was a ways out there. His boat drifted toward shore, so he was lucky,” Clark said.

McCabe said he was on the Skowhegan side of the lake when he heard someone yelling.

“I was on the west side at the day camp, and I saw the boat capsize and somebody yelling for help,” he said. “I drove over and jumped in the water from the dock.”

McCabe said about 30 minutes before the boat began taking on water, he and Ellis watched it from shore, concerned about the choppy water and a stiff breeze.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on it. It was not a very good boat,” Ellis said. “Jeff got in the water and I grabbed a Jet Ski and went out there, and we collected the guy and dragged him in. He was on a seat cushion and we got a personal flotation device — a real life jacket — on him in the water. Jeff was holding him on the Jet Ski and I pulled him in to shore.”

Ryder was not wearing a life jacket. The two life vests that were in the boat floated away, Ellis said, noting that boaters are always advised to wear a life jacket, carry a floatable device and have some alternate way, such as a paddle, to get back to shore if the boat’s motor becomes inoperable.

They said the water depth where Ryder had gone under is about 15 feet, well over his head.

Desiree Keyser, 14, at her family’s camp on the lake’s Canaan shore, had a front row seat for the rescue. It was her family’s Jet Ski that Ellis used to get to Ryder.

“I heard him calling for help and thought it was just my imagination. Then I went over and saw, yeah, he’s actually out there,” she said. “I saw someone on the road and gave him a life jacket, but by then the park ranger was there. I didn’t know if I should go out there, because he would pull me down in the water. I was worried about him, but there was a bunch of people, and I thought he’d be in good hands.”

At the lake’s east side boat launch, where Skowhegan firefighters towed Ryder’s boat, Ryder, shirtless and soaking wet, counted his blessings but declined to say very much about how it all happened.

“I was going against the wind first going up, but coming back the waves started coming over the back of the boat,” he said. “I’m OK now.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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