Clinton

Teens Credited With Saving Lives of Boaters Off Conn. Coast

The teens say they were in the right place at the right time.

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Tense moments unfolded off the coast of Clinton, Connecticut, earlier this week when a boat carrying five people overturned. Three teenagers, who had a lot of boating experience, were close by and sprung into action.

"If you come across a situation like that, you just have to do what you have to do," said Evan Kamoen, 18, from Killingworth.

Kamoen took his friends, Luke and Ryan, out on the water to fish Monday afternoon. They had the radio on and heard a distress call from a boat nearby. The boat was taking in water.

“We just started looking around. Evan grabbed the radio and started talking trying to figure out where they were. Then we looked over and saw the boat and realized it was them," said Ryan Kelly, 18, from Pawcatuck.

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The teenagers made their way over to help, but when they got to the distressed boaters, the situation changed. The boat overturned.

"It happened fast," said Kamoen. “We all saw the boat just slowly...and then whoosh, right over."

“We really had to get those people in our boat," added Luke Voegeli, 17, from Guilford.

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, there were five men, ages 72-80, on board the overturned boat. The teens said that three of the men couldn't swim.

Kamoen had a video camera strapped to his chest that he usually uses to capture fishing video. The camera was rolling during the rescue.

On the video you can hear Kamoen ask for back-up, communicate with officers on the radio, talk to the men in the water and guide his friends through the process.

Kelly and Voegeli started pulling the men inside the boat.

"I just wanted to save them as fast as possible,” said Kelly.

The teens managed to rescue four of the men. Another boat came in time to pick up the fifth man.

"It was the right place, right time," said Kelly.

According to DEEP, the men on the fishing boat want to remain anonymous. The agency reports that the vessel owner praised the teens for their actions.

DEEP is hoping people will learn from the story.

“A lot of things went right in this situation, thankfully," said Will Healey, a spokesperson for DEEP.

According to Healey, the boat owner did a safety check before leaving. He knew exactly where all of the life jackets were on board. As soon as the boat owner saw water coming in, he asked all of the people on board to grab life jackets.

Healey stressed that this type of situation can happen to anyone, highlighting the importance of safety and education on the water. He also said it was critical that the boat owner and the teenagers both had radios on board and had the radios tuned to the proper channel. When the boat owner put out the distress call, he included all of the important information including his location and how many people were on board.

“Lifejackets, the use of Marine VHF Radios, and the monitoring of Channel 16 by the Good Samaritan rescue vessels saved the lives of these five men,” DEEP Environmental Conservation Officer Alexandra Blackwell said in a press release from DEEP.

The teenagers said they will never forget the experience.

When the men on board called the teenagers "lifesavers," Kamoen responded, "a couple of teenagers, that's all we are."

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