BROOKLIN, Maine — A local man who was badly injured Saturday afternoon in a boating accident was listed in stable condition Sunday morning at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
William Cohen, 62, of Brooklin had left Naskeag Harbor with his daughter and two friends in an 18-foot Boston Whaler and headed around Harbor Island, according to Maine Marine Patrol Officer Colin MacDonald.
Although the harbor had been “flat calm,” by the time Cohen rounded the point of Harbor Island just before 12:30 p.m., the wind was howling, MacDonald said.
The boat hit a wave, then another wave at a strange angle, he said. That threw everyone off the boat, which was still in gear, its 15-horsepower outboard motor still running.
“The Whaler was going in a high rate of speed in circles,” MacDonald said.
The two female passengers on the boat were able to swim clear, while another man was stuck in the middle of the circling boat until he swam away. But Cohen was hit by the Whaler’s outboard motor, which ran over his legs.
He suffered severe lacerations and broken bones, according to MacDonald.
“He lost a lot of blood,” MacDonald said.
Two people who were boating nearby picked up Cohen and the others from the water and also called for help. The two boaters reportedly were EMTs, and were able to provide some medical care to Cohen until other authorities arrived, MacDonald said.
Because Cohen had lost so much blood, rescue crews decided to have him airlifted to EMMC.
MacDonald, who was on Swan’s Island, arrived at Naskeag Point at about 12:45 p.m.
“When I got there, he had already been brought to the beach and the helicopter was trying to land,” he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the Brooklin Fire Department also responded.
Quick-thinking lobstermen were able to stop the unmanned Boston Whaler, which was still zooming in circles, by intentionally entangling their gear in the outboard motor, MacDonald said.
Three of the four people who had been on board were wearing life jackets, including Cohen, the marine officer said.
Cohen might have been going a little too fast for the windy conditions, MacDonald said, surmising that the strength of the wind probably took him by surprise.
It is the second such incident that has happened in Hancock County in the last two weeks, MacDonald said. A 13-year-old boy from Hancock Point was injured in July when he fell from a boat and was struck by the propeller.
The boy also had to be taken to EMMC by LifeFlight helicopter to get treatment for his injuries, MacDonald said.
The marine patrol officer urged boaters to wear life jackets, not to ride on the bows of boats and to use a “tethered kill switch,” if available. That switch will instantly cause the boat’s engine to stop if the operator is thrown overboard.