Friday, October 10, 2008

Fire Department Receives New Waterproof Defibrillators

By Ron Long Staff Columnist and Cindy Hunt
The story starts about a year ago. It was Monday, October 22, 2008 in Cocoa Beach, Fla when Ted and his wife Cindy were vacationing staying at a friend’s condo. They had been in town for just three days and were spending as much time as they could at the beach, knowing they wouldn’t seeing weather like that in Berwick for a very long time. Ted and Cindy were walking along the sidewalk adjacent to Cocoa Beach eventually passing a riptide warning sign. Then a man came running up, exasperated, pleading that he needed help because his wife was caught out in a riptide current and couldn’t to make it back to shore.
Ted didn’t say anything; he just looked at his wife, took his wallet and cell phone out of his pocket and headed into the water. Cindy hollered “Well, at least take off your sandals,” Ted kicked off the sandals and took off his shirt, and dove right in.
Cindy watched as Ted and the other man reached the stranded woman, who was Maureen Jennings, a Canadian novelist. At first, everything seemed to be going fine. Ted and the other man reached Jennings, and swam with her sideways, parallel to shore, to get out of the riptide — right by the book.
But all of a sudden, the other man got pulled back by the riptide and became separated from the group.
Fred started to get pulled back, too. As the current was taking him back, Ted gave Jennings a final push sideways. The effort forced Jennings past the edge of the riptide, and she was able to swim back to shore.
Cindy started getting nervous as she saw Ted was struggling to stay afloat with all the waves crashing down. She watched him float on his stomach, trying to save energy.
Rescue workers arrived a few minutes later. They got the other man out of the water, but took longer to reach Fred. When they finally found him, it was too late. Seeing the rescue workers bring him back on shore and try to give him CPR, Cindy knew Ted was gone.
The loss of Fred Hunt also known as Ted has brought the communities of Berwick Me, Cocoa Beach Fla., and Wells Me all a little bit closer.
It was a beautiful night, perfect for a “Sunset Kayak Paddle” fundraiser on August 28, 2008 for the Ted Hunt, Jr. Memorial Fund. Plum Island Kayak,, in Newburyport, Massachusetts generously donated their time, kayaks, life vests, and transportation. Fifteen participants set off in kayaks up the Merrimack River into the tranquil waters of the Joppa Flats for an evening of memories, stories and plenty of laughs.
Guide, Ken Taylor gave everyone a warm welcome, an introduction and the purpose of the first Sunset Paddle in memory of Ted Hunt who lost his life saving another caught in a rip current in Cocoa Beach, Florida, on October 22, 2007. Ken followed this with a short orientation about paddling, steering and communication on the water, and then everyone made their way to a colorful kayak. It was a little tricky maneuvering past the moored boats at the launch site, but under the careful supervision of John, Ken and Carrie Metcalf we were headed in the right direction on the open river.
After rescheduling twice due to inclement weather from the original June 17th date, it seemed the night was meant to be. Ted’s youngest daughter, Lauren was home from Texas for the weekend and his oldest daughter, Chelsea and fiancé Jay, all paddled together with Cindy, Ted’s wife of 30 years.
Ken and Danny Sullivan, Ted’s co-worker/friend, found a common family connection as well as a Plum Island Kayak employee previously employed by Textron, leading to “who knew who” and a session of ‘six degrees of separation’. It was a mix of family, friends and friends/coworkers of Ted’s former employer Textron, and Cindy’s employer at UNH coming together to honor the memory of a great friend, father and husband. It was a special evening of bonding, stories, water fun, and an elegant sunset.
All monies generated benefits the memorial fund in honor of Ted Hunt. Funds are being donated to the Wells Fire Department for one of the two needed waterproof AED’s (Automated External Defibrillator) for the Wells Beach area where the Hunt family spent many days and evenings with friends, family and as a couple savoring the soft, sandy beaches, waves and canoeing up the river side. Books on ocean currents and water safety are also being donated to the Berwick Public Library in Ted’s memory.
The memorial fund will merge with the Sea of Dreams organization, ( in Cocoa Beach, Florida as founder Randy Smith, a long time family friend, along with many dedicated volunteers have strived to make changes on their Florida beaches in Brevard County. Currently, Brevard County Commissioners have approved 12 fulltime lifeguards, 5 year round lifeguard towers and 13 seasonal towers. Brevard’s force was terribly inadequate compared to other counties along the East-Central Florida coast with just two full-time staffers.
Thirty part-time seasonal lifeguards, mostly high school or college students with about one year of experience have been on Cocoa Beach in Brevard County comparing with an average of eight to 15 years’ experience for full-time lifeguards in other counties. Commissioners finally began to act in late August, 2008 when they approved hiring 12 full-time lifeguards through Sept. 30 during their final budget votes.
“Ted lost his life saving another in Cocoa Beach, and I feel this is the best honor to Ted’s sacrifice, where the money will improve safety for many others. He would smile to see our friends gathered on the water in his memory” says Cindy Hunt, Fred/Ted’s wife of 30 years. Ken summed up the evening as he and Cindy floated down the river and Ken commented that it was a perfect evening with a perfect sunset and it was as if Ted was looking down and enjoying it with us.
Caption: Molly the dog, Carrie Metcalf, Lauren Hunt, Ken Taylor, Cindy Hunt, and Chelsea Hunt. (Courtesy photo)