What started as a relaxing evening cruise turned into a life-or-death rescue with two men, their wives and two dogs teetering at the edge of a waterfall.
The incident unfolded May 30 on the Androscoggin River near Lewiston, Maine.
"The engine just cut out," a tearful Arlene Duclos told the Sun Journal. "We kept drifting closer and closer to the falls. I was so scared. I can't swim a lick."
The bowrider’s engine stalled about 8 p.m. in an area above what is known as Great Falls, between Lewiston and Auburn. The small boat, which owner Paul Duclos said he hadn’t operated in more than a year, drifted downstream until it came to rest on the edge of the dam, where it sat precariously for about an hour.
"It was a mutually agreed-upon venture," said Ron Locke, who survived the ordeal with his wife, Lorraine, and their black Pomeranian. "It was supposed to be a moonlit cruise."
"It was bad," local resident Jody Bolduc told the Sun Journal. He said he rushed to the Auburn side of the river after hearing about the incident on a police scanner. "There was panic. They were screaming and yelling over there."
Rescuers came from all over, including boats from a local fire department and the county sheriff’s department. A LifeFlight helicopter hovered over the falls, shining a spotlight on the stranded boat as darkness fell. Other rescue crews waited below the falls in case the boat slipped over the edge.
Eventually the Auburn fire department boat pulled the boat free and brought it to shore.
Duclos was ticketed by the county sheriff for not carrying life jackets and for an expired registration. The local government, however, said it will not seek reimbursement for the cost of the rescue.