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Tuesday, March 20 News

Rescued kayaker ID'd; town board member in 'stable' condition

The quick response of a passerby and a Pequot Yacht Club employee helped save the life of a man whose kayak capsized Wednesday afternoon at the mouth of Southport Harbor, pitching him into the cold water that immobilized him.

The kayaker -- identified Thursday as William Sapone of Hulls Farm Road -- was initially unresponsive when pulled from the water, but was revived when transported to the dock at Ye Yacht Yard. Emergency personnel at the scene were unable to locate any identification at that time for Sapone, 59, a member of the Penfield Pavilion Building Committee.

He was then taken to Bridgeport Hospital for treatment of hypothermia and listed in stable condition Thursday.

Landon Storrs, a former member of the Conservation Commission, said she was coming out of South Gate Lane when she saw the sun glinting off an object in the water shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday. After getting a pair of binoculars, Storrs said she was able to determine the object was the shell of a boat, with one paddle sticking out of the water.

Storrs called 911 and then alerted employees at the nearby Pequot Yacht Club that someone might have fallen into the water from the kayak.

Travis Herman, a yacht club employee, jumped into one of the club's boats and raced toward the mouth of the harbor where the kayak was adrift. When he reached the kayak, he saw Sapone in the water, clinging to his craft.

Herman said the kayaker was overcome and unable to help as Herman grabbed ahold of his tee shirt and pulled him into the club's boat. "Once I got him in the boat, I threw my jacket on him and floored it back," he said.

He returned to the dock just as emergency crews were preparing to launch a Fire Department boat to assist with the rescue.

Sapone, who was wearing a life jacket, was dressed only in shorts and a tee shirt. As paramedics and firefighters treated him on the Ye Yacht Yard dock, personnel looked unsuccessfully through his pockets and backpack, trying to find identification.

Herman said he didn't recognize the man or the kayak.

Assistant Fire Chief George Gomola said Sapone apparently was in water for less than a half-hour. At the dock, artificial respiration was performed, and oxygen and initial treatment for hypothermia also were administered.

Sapone was unresponsive at first, but Gomola said he regained consciousness before being taken to the hospital.

Herman, who had just finished a safety meeting with the yacht club's high school group Wednesday, said the water temperature is about 40 degrees. "Hopefully he's going to be okay," he said.