Lloyd Schrack has been a captain for Niagara Jet Adventures for six years.
Today was quite an adventure.
It started off like any other day on the job but things changed very quickly on the Niagara River.
“It was a normal trip, fortunately for this guy, our group arrived 15 minutes late and it put us at the right place at the right time.” Schrack tells me he was headed down river and spotted something in a whirlpool under the Lewiston Queenston Bridge. He sent a mayday alert to the coast guard and headed down. “I noticed something there and as I got closer I saw it was a vessel that had turned upside down. It was a jet ski. It was spinning like a top, upside down. I raced around it a few times and I was hoping to see hand holding on. I didn’t see anything.”
But, Schrack didn’t stop there. He thought it through. “I headed downstream,” he recalls, “My instincts were right. When I got to a particular area, I saw what I thought was a stick in the water. It was the only anomaly so I raced towards it and saw a splash. It was his arm. As I approached he went under and I lost sight of him.”
Then just about five to ten seconds later the man popped up with the force of a whirlpool. At that moment, Schrack did was he was trained to do. He yelled man overboard and got to work. “I was able to turn the boat sideways and get him to the stern of my boat, my first mate Salina Lozzo – fantastic young girl – with the assistance of a passenger, managed to reach out and grab him with the boat hook and get him aboard our vessel.”
They brought the man onto the boat. “He was in shock. He had no idea what was going on. He was white as a ghost. He could not catch his breath. He couldn’t complete a sentence – even five minutes later – without gasping. I gave him my jacket and that helped.”
Schrack says the man had an outdated, rotted life vest on that was not only useless, but quite possibly made things worse than not having a vest at all.
Crews with Niagara Jet Adventures have standard overboard drills once every month. Thankfully the crew kept their cool and with the help of that passenger – saved the man’s life. “Another minute and he would have been gone. It just worked out, but really another minute and we would have a much different story here – a different ending.”
The crew brought the victim to shore where an ambulance was waiting to take him to Mount. St. Mary’s Hospital to be checked out.
The Rochester man was out on a joyride and apparently was trying to take a selfie with his phone when the accident happened. The man turned off the jet ski to take the picture and as soon as the machine was powered off, it tipped. Schrack says with the river running 750-thousands gallons of water every second, that is not at all surprising.
It was quite an adventure on the river today. As for being a hero – Schrack says he’s not – he’s just a guy who was doing his job.
“I am not a hero. This was our training that allowed this poor guy to get home to his family tonight. We didn’t do anything different than what you or anyone else would have done.”
We think you are a hero – 100%!!!