A boater and firefighters save a family thrown from a rogue boat | News, Sports, Jobs

On Friday, Saranac Lake firefighters chain themselves into an empty boat as it circles erratically around them on Flower Lake. The boat’s occupants had been thrown into the water and a nearby boater pulled them out of harm’s way into his boat. Firefighters were eventually able to board and stop the fleeing boat. (Business Photo – Aaron Cerbone)

LAKE SARANAC – An empty boat was out of control, circling erratically in Flower Lake, and a family was thrown overboard in danger on Friday afternoon.

A nearby boater rescued the family, pulling them into his boat as theirs sped by. Volunteer firefighters from the Saranac Lake Fire Department jumped into the unmanned boat to arrest it in a scene resembling an action movie. The Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Team treated the family before transporting three to Adirondack Medical Center.

Jim Bolinsky of Lake Placid was launching his boat for a day with his family when he saw the boat turn sharply, partially capsize, throw its occupants into the lake and spin with its propeller dangerously close. His partner, Pam Hockenberger, said it was terrifying as she watched from the shore as he accelerated and pulled the family, including a young child, out of the water and into his boat.

Hockenberger was grateful that Bolinsky got them out quickly.

But the driverless boat was still circling near Pontiac Bay, keeping a tight radius, but traveling at a fairly high speed.

Saranac Lake firefighters approach an empty boat that was erratically circling on Flower Lake on Friday. The boat’s occupants had been thrown into the water and a nearby boater pulled them out of harm’s way into his boat. Firefighters were eventually able to board and stop the fleeing boat. (Business Photo – Aaron Cerbone)

Firefighters got out in a boat and threw a line over the fleeing boat, wrapping it around. He was still jumping in circles as SLVFD firefighter Michael Knapp jumped from a fireboat into the unmanned one to shut down the engine. Boaters and onlookers in Riverside Park watching the entire scene applauded him for getting the boat under control.

Bolinsky said boaters were “damaged,” but does not appear seriously injured. At the boat launch, they were bloody from the lacerations.

The Enterprise was unable to find updates on their condition on Sunday.

Hockenberger was in tears as he told the Enterprise of Bolinsky’s actions.

“We are here for a reason” said Hockenberger. “He’s a hero.”

Saranac Lake firefighters approach an empty boat that was erratically circling on Flower Lake on Friday. The boat’s occupants had been thrown into the water and a nearby boater pulled them out of harm’s way into his boat. Firefighters were eventually able to board and stop the fleeing boat. (Business Photo – Aaron Cerbone)

The SLVFD was called at 6:37 p.m. with a truck, a boat and eight members. They resumed service at 7:35 p.m.

On Friday, Saranac Lake firefighters chain themselves into an empty boat as it circles erratically around them on Flower Lake. The boat’s occupants had been thrown into the water and a nearby boater pulled them out of harm’s way into his boat. Firefighters were eventually able to board and stop the fleeing boat. (Business Photo – Aaron Cerbone)

Saranac Lake firefighters Rick Yorkey, left, and Michael Knapp returned to shore after Knapp jumped from a firefighting boat into an erratically spinning driverless boat in the middle of Flower Lake on Friday. The boat’s occupants had been thrown into the water and a nearby boater pulled them out of harm’s way into his boat. Yorkey approached and Knapp was able to board and stop the fleeing boat. (Business Photo – Aaron Cerbone)

Saranac Lake firefighters Rick Yorkey, left, and Michael Knapp returned to shore after Knapp jumped from a firefighting boat into an erratically spinning driverless boat in the middle of Flower Lake on Friday. The boat’s occupants had been thrown into the water and a nearby boater pulled them out of harm’s way into his boat. Yorkey approached and Knapp was able to board and stop the fleeing boat. (Business Photo – Aaron Cerbone)

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