Posted on July 28, 2021
Scott Mauldin, HHTN
For over 50 years, literally thousands of HydroHoist boat lifts have been on duty; providing boaters with piece of mind; while protecting their boats from the harsh effects of wind, wake, corrosion, osmosis, and electrolysis.
On a windy day in August, a HydroHoist boat lift was called upon to save something much more valuable than a boat.
Four Seasons Resort is an upscale residential community located near Smithville, TN, on the lower southwest side of Center Hill Lake. Amongst its many premium amenities, the resort offers its residents a full service marina. John Whelan is General Manager of the resort and Marina. During the summer, and especially on the weekends, John often makes his rounds, walking the docks to make sure everything is in order, as well as greeting and assisting slip owners.
Other than being a bit more breezy than normal, Saturday August 5th, 2017 was a typical Saturday on the lake. Boat traffic was heavy and many people were out enjoying the day.
John was making his rounds on the dock when he heard a low voice call out “Help me, Can you help me.” Looking at the nearby and surrounding slips, John did not see anything out of the ordinary, nor did he spot anyone that may be calling out to him. When he heard the voice call out to him again; he focused on a pontoon boat, about 50 yards away from him, which appeared to be slightly listing to one side. As he focused on the pontoon boat, the voice called out a third time. It was then that John saw a head, barely above water level, at the stern of the boat adjacent to the pontoon. The individual was clinging to the outdrive of the boat.
As John rushed over to help, he recognized the face and voice of Jodie Folk, a resident and slip owner at Four Seasons. John said, “I could see a bloody gash across his forehead and he was struggling to stay above water”. John grabbed a nearby tube and line. When he reached Mr. Folk, he told John that he thought that, in addition to hitting his head, he had also broken his arm during the fall. John was able to get Mr. Folk to grasp the inner tube with his good arm. He made a quick assessment and saw that he was cold and shivering and was likely going into shock. Due to the broken arm, and the possibility of a neck injury, John was hesitant to try and man-handle Mr. Folk up onto the dock. John had noticed a HydroHoist boat lift submerged in a nearby slip. He made a split second decision to try and get Mr. Folk positioned over the lift. Fortunately, another boater as well as Andrew Atnip, John’s assistant, had arrived to help. The three of them were able to safely move Mr. Folk into position over the boat lift.
John stated “We were able to get Jody on the boat lift in a sitting position on the hull pads while the lift was raised up. This was really, truly an amazing help getting a victim out of the water quickly and safely in my opinion,” John states. “Lifting a victim with a limb injury is always a challenge because all the traditional means of rescue simply would not work without inflicting more pain on the victim.”
John was able to treat Mr. Folk’s head wound and tie his arm in a sling to relieve the pressure. They then used wood planks to lead him from the boat lift to the adjacent slip finger. Another boater had arrived on scene and dialed 911. The DeKalb County rescue squad arrived and Mr. Folk was taken to a nearby emergency room for evaluation. A Tennessee Wildlife Resources Officer also appeared on scene.
Mr. Folk was not wearing a lifejacket at the time of his fall. John stresses the importance of wearing a lifejacket at all times while on a boat or even near water regardless of a person’s swimming abilities especially if you are enjoying or working on or near the water alone.
John’s final comment was, “Without a nearby HydroHoist boat lift, I don’t know what the final outcome would have been,”