Conn. FFs use drone to find kayaker stranded at lighthouse

The drone was launched after firefighters on shore were unable to see the stranded man in the darkness


Jim Shay and Josh LaBella
Connecticut Post, Bridgeport, Conn.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Connor Meaney said getting stuck, and subsequently rescued by firefighters, from the rocks of the Penfield Reef Lighthouse Saturday night was a great experience.

Meaney said he was kayaking in the area when he realized he was too tired to make it to shore and decided to call for help.

Firefighters used a drone to locate a kayaker who became stranded on the rocks around Penfield Reef Lighthouse on Saturday night. (Photo/U.S. General Services Administration)
Firefighters used a drone to locate a kayaker who became stranded on the rocks around Penfield Reef Lighthouse on Saturday night. (Photo/U.S. General Services Administration)

“I called them up,” Meaney said. “They were very nice on the phone. They (arrived) and gave me a nice mask.”

Meaney said it took about a half hour for the fire department to arrive at the lighthouse. The 22-year-old said the incident was the “best experience ever,” adding that the firefighters were very professional when responding.

“I got a nice boat ride (and was able) to feel the breeze,” he said. “It was great.”

The Fairfield Fire Department said Meaney had fallen off the boat and swam to the rocks surrounding the lighthouse.

Penfield Reef Lighthouse, built in 1874, is about a mile from the shore.

The Fairfield Emergency Communications Center received a call at 8:17 p.m.

“Engine 1 and Car 3 responded to Penfield Beach to attempt to locate (Meaney) from the shore, but were unable due to darkness. The Fire Department Drone was launched as an attempt to gain more information on the location of the stranded boater,” fire officials said. “The Fairfield Fire Department Marine 217 quickly responded from South Benson Marina and navigated into the shallow water near the lighthouse, where the three-man crew of Rescue 1 successfully rescued the stranded kayaker.”

Meaney was reported to be “wet and cold,” but uninjured and was transported to the South Benson on Marine 217.

Once on shore, Meaney was medically evaluated by Engine 4 personnel and a crew from American Medical Response.

Units from the Bridgeport Fire and Police Marine units responded to assist with the rescue.

The U.S. Coast Guard was also notified of the response and successful rescue.

“The Fairfield Fire Department would like to remind everyone on the importance of wearing a life jacket and always having some means of communication while out on the water,” fire officials said. “In addition always make sure you let someone know where you are going and when you anticipate returning.”

Meaney acknowledged that he should have been wearing a life jacket. He said his only qualm with the experience was that he had to walk back to his house, and said even that was not terrible.

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©2020 the Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, Conn.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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