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Plattsburgh police rescue man from river

pPLATTSBURGH — A potentially terrible situation turned out well as Plattsburgh City Police were able to help rescue a man struggling in the Saranac River last Sunday morning./pp“I’m glad it turned out that way. It could have been real bad,” City Police Cpl. Darin Perrotte said./pbWas holding on/bpPolice received a call at 9:04 a.m. about an overturned kayak in the river just east of the Richard Perry Bridge on South Catherine Street./ppThey were told that a man had fallen out of the canoe and was holding onto the overturned vessel./ppPerrotte and other officers responded quickly, knowing that at this time of year with high and rapidly flowing water, the river can be treacherous for those navigating it on kayaks, canoes or inner tubes./pb“Caught a glimpse”/bp“I went down around the bend from our station (Pine Street) and I saw the kayak and no one was in it, and I thought, ‘Oh no,” Perrotte said./pp“Then I caught a glimpse of his yellow life jacket, and I heard him say something about having trouble breathing.”/ppPerrotte scrambled down the steep embankment and was able to grab onto 77-year-old James Hart./ppPerrotte was able to pull Hart up the embankment, where he sat to catch his breath./pp“He told me that he thinks he hit a rock, and that knocked him out of the canoe,” Perrotte said./pp“He tried to hold on, but he couldn’t get to shore.”/pbNorthern Forest paddlers/bpHart, as it turns out, was with a party of three other kayakers in the midst of navigating the more-than-700-mile water trail known as the Northern Forest Canoe Trail./ppThe trail stretches from Old Forge in the heart of the Adirondacks to Fort Kent, Maine, on the Canadian border./ppThe trail consists of 23 rivers and streams, 59 lakes and ponds, 45 communities, and 65 portages covering more than 70 miles./ppAbout 147 miles of the trail, considered the Appalachian Trail of the waterways, travel through the Adirondacks./ppHart and his companions, all in their 50s, are all seasoned kayak travelers and were well prepared with supplies./pb“In incredible shape”/bpCity Fire Department emergency medical technicians checked Hart, but he seemed fine other than a few bumps and bruises, Perrotte said./pp“He was in incredible shape for his age,” he said. “He was shaken up a little bit, but I think anyone else would have really been shaken up.”/ppPolice were able to snag Hart’s boat out of the river and retrieve his supplies, which included dry clothes in a dry bag./ppHe changed clothes and enjoyed a cup of hot coffee with his rescuers as he waited for his wife to arrive from Gouverneur to pick him up./pb“Glad he was OK”/bpHis traveling partners eventually continued on their way across Lake Champlain, paddling toward Maine with their July 3 finish date in mind./pp“He (Hart) told me that he was only going to do part of the trip,” Perrotte said./ppA veteran officer, Perrotte has seen river rescues go worse in the past./pp“There was really nothing heroic on my part,” he said. “I just helped him out, and I’m glad he was OK. It turned out to be a nice story.”/p


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