Lengthy Island Duck Hunter Rescued From Frigid Water After Kayak Overturned; ‘A Little Longer And He Would’ve Succumbed To Hypothermia’

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HEMPSTEAD, NY (CBSNewYork) – A dangerously close call to a man from Long Island who was duck hunting and suddenly stuck in freezing water for an hour.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported on Monday, he managed to make a call that saved his life.

Duck hunters flock to the town of Hempstead, known for the concentration of waterfowl.

But on January 10th, the sport almost claimed one of their lives.

Bill, an avid hunter from East Northport who refused to share his last name with CBS2, was in 40-degree water when his kayak fell over in the Reynolds Canal.

“My first thoughts were, I thought I wouldn’t see my wife and child again. I just had to get out of that mindset quickly and basically switch to survival mode, ”he said.

Bill’s phone, which was submerged, somehow made a call to 911. But the rescuers still didn’t have his exact location.

“We had lost communication with him and the search area could possibly have been extremely large,” said Orazio Taddeo, a Hempstead town police officer.

“When we got there he was on the swamp waving us down,” said Sal Mastracchio, a Hempstead town policeman. “He was shaking and we got him on the boat and got him back to shore as fast as we could.”

Bill was soaked. His body temperature was alarmingly low.

“I would say a little longer and he would have succumbed to hypothermia,” said Taddeo.

“I think we prevented a disaster,” said Mastracchio.

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At this time of year, hunters must wear living vests that Bill wore. But he admits that lessons have been learned.

“Never hunt alone, use a safe ship,” he said. “Always try to keep your phone, any form of communication, dry.”

“A kayak is always an unstable vehicle, even more so when you are hunting on it,” said Taddeo.

Bill said he was sharing his story to thank the first responders who got on him just in time.

“I had an angel and they watched over me,” he said. “You could bring me back to my wife and child.”

Police officers in Hempstead Bay typically rescue several hunters and fishermen each winter when the water is cold and the daylight needed to rescue a stranded person is dangerously limited.

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