Rep. Mark Hart, who represents part of Scott County, has seen a lot in his years with the Pendleton County Search and Rescue Department.
But Sept. 8 will be a day he won’t forget. That is when he and fellow first-responders rescued a 5-year-old boy from a submerged car in Kincaid Lake State Park.
“I’ve been on dives several times, but sad to say, most of the time when I’ve been out there, it has been to recover drowning victims, or boats and vehicles,” he said. “This was a live rescue. We were besides ourselves with joy. It’s a great feeling to have saved that boy’s life.”
A father and his three boys were at the boat dock when the car rolled into the lake off the dock, Hart said. The dad and one of the children were on the dock, and the dad was able to get one of the kids out the car, but couldn’t reach it to get the 5-year-old out. One of the sons ran to the top of the hill and alerted park rangers and employees to what had happened. Hart said they heard the call come in, but he and most of the first responders are five miles away.
Hart, who was the first chief and one of the founding members of the search and rescue department and a volunteer with the Falmouth Fire Department, was at home and informed the chief he was available and on his way to the scene in his personal vehicle as they brought dive equipment.
“By this time he had been underwater for 10 minutes and I am thinking I am coming out to find a body,” Hart said. “The car was in about 10 feet of water.”
Park ranger Jeremy Cook and employee Eddie Lonaker were already searching for the vehicle, according to Hart and the Falmouth Outlook. Lonaker held a rope tied around Cook’s waist as Cook dove trying to find the vehicle. Falmouth Firefighter Lt. John Lucas and Police Officer Mark McClure had arrived by that time, and Lucas joined Cook diving to break a window open and extract the boy.
That was no easy task, but Lucas finally pulled the boy out. As they got the boy to the surface, McClure said he saw the boy began to blink. Cook was physically spent as Hart jumped into the water and swam out to meet them.
“I met them and told them I had the boy and to worry about getting yourselves into shore,” Hart said. “He must have had a big enough air pocket in the car to keep him alive.”
He said it was truly a team effort to have a happy ending. The Falmouth Outlook reported the youngster was sitting up and eating a sandwich as he was checked out by medical staff.
“It was a good day for everybody,” Hart said. “I would like to meet the boy now.”
Steve McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.