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Five On-the-Water Towboat Captains Honored For Heroism

Arizona’s Capt. Sean McKinney, Vessel Assist Lake Havasu, takes top honor.

With over 600 tow boats spread across North America, the law of averages dictates that, eventually, BoatUS towing captains will be thrust into the middle of life-threatening emergencies. BoatUS Towing Services recently honored five of its captains — four with Meritorious Service Awards and one with the BoatUS "Woody Pollack Lifesaving Award" — at a ceremony that recently capped off the group's annual conference held in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

The Woody Pollack award is named after the well-respected towboat captain in the fleet who died at an early age.

"Sometimes the routine of a normal day is interrupted by a life-threatening mayday call or an incident that unfolds in front of them, and our captains step in without hesitation," said BoatUS Vice President and Director of Towing Adam Wheeler.

"They are not in the rescue business, but their actions save others. We are very proud of them." US Coast Guard Chief of Search and Rescue, Captain Peter Martin, presented the awards on behalf of Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). Here are the details on the Lake Havasu incident:

Woody Pollack Lifesaving Award To Arizona Captain

One Saturday afternoon last summer, Capt. Sean McKinney of Vessel Assist, Lake Havasu, Ariz., was providing a routine tow to a BoatUS member in Havasu Springs Marina until piercing screams shot through the field of boat slips. McKinney quickly dropped the tow and found the source of the sound a few slips way — it was the mother of a seven-year-old boy who had jumped off the stern of the family's powerboat as the boy's father was backing into the slip.

Carrying his first aid kit, just like the one he had in the US Army as a combat lifesaver, McKinney raced into action. The boy had two deep prop cuts to the bone on the calf, and was bleeding badly. Captain McKinney quickly applied a tourniquet, advised Vessel Assist Lake Havasu Base to summon help, and continued to care and comfort the boy and his family for 20 minutes before emergency responders could arrive to the remote location.

The boy was medevac'd to a Phoenix hospital and survived. McKinney's quick actions, and his ability to keep the boy and his father calm during the emergency, saved the life of the young man.

Meritorious Service Awards

Other TowBoatUS captains received Meritorious Service Awards; they are Capt. Joe Burkett, Fernandina, Fla.; Capt. Mitch Kramer, Oyster Bay, N.Y.; Capt. Harold Smith, Sandy Hook, N.J., and Capt. Robert Estrada, Lanier, Ga.


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