Lifesaving lad lauded after rescue

Posted June 11, 2009, at 10:08 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — When a lobster trap rope pulled Lester Drisko Sr. into the chilly waters off the coast of Maine and then entangled him last month, his 8-year-old grandson didn’t panic.

Mathew Drisko reached over and tied a life jacket around his barely conscious grandfather and took control of the boat.

Mathew was honored at the State House on Thursday by Gov. John Baldacci and the Legislature for his heroic efforts.

He took all the fuss in stride. Asked what the governor said to him, Mathew chose his words sparingly: “That I did a good job.”

His actions late last month were far less restrained. Authorities say he saved his grandfather’s life.

Mathew, of Columbia Falls, was with lobsterman Drisko in late May when Drisko’s leg became tangled in rope tied to a lobster trap he had just thrown overboard, and he was pulled into the water. The elder Drisko kicked off his boots, freeing his leg from the rope. But he was immobilized by the cold water and unable to climb back aboard.

His quick-thinking grandson reached overboard and tied a life jacket to his grandfather to keep him afloat, and took over the boat’s controls.

“He kept circling me. He wouldn’t leave me until he could spot the other boat,” said Drisko, who recalls passing out in the cold water and then coming to when waves splashed his face.

After about a half-hour, Leland Faulkingham Jr. approached in his boat and lifted Drisko out of the water.

Mathew’s father, Lester Drisko Jr., said his son kept his cool because he has been on boats ever since he could walk.

“If he hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have no father today,” said Mathew’s dad.

After getting a standing ovation in the House, the Drisko family went to the Senate chamber, where Mathew also was recognized.

“Are you proud of him or what?” Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, D-Vassalboro, asked Mathew’s father.

“He’s my hero,” Mathew’s dad responded.

Mathew gave only an affirmative nod when asked if he liked all the attention. But he did offer some advice: “Always wear a life jacket, so in case you fall overboard you don’t drown.”

He wasted no time when asked what he wants to be when he grows up: “A lobster fisherman.”

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