Friday, July 20, 2012

Young Girl & Grandfather Save Man, Dog from Piscataqua River

Terry Adams and his grand-daughter Hillary Adams-Wainwright, local heroes (photo by Michelle Kingston)

By Michelle Kingston
Staff Columnist

As if running your own lobster boat at thirteen years old isn’t impressive enough, Hillary Adams-Wainwright, of York, is now considered a local Seacoast hero after saving two lives on Monday, July 11, from the Piscataqua River.
“Everyone kind of made it seem like it was (a big deal), but I don’t really think it was at all. It was just kind of like, it happened,” she said.
She had just finished dropping off a load of lobsters at Chrissy D. Lobster Company in Kittery with her grandfather, Terry Adams, 66, when she spotted Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers whistling and motioning them to turn around.
As the pair began to rotate the boat, scanning the river for what they thought would be divers, Adams-Wainwright spotted a small, scared and struggling four-legged friend searching for help.
“We went and grabbed the dog, and we were heading back, and they were still telling us to go back,” she said.
A woman on Peirce Island was also frantically screaming for Adams-Wainwright and her grandfather to continue looking around.
“She was hysterical,” said Adams.
Penny, the small pup, who Adams-Wainwright believed was an English Terrier, was recovering on the boat when Adams spotted a hand pop up out of the river. Penny’s owner was also gasping for air, requiring assistance and hoping to be rescued.
“We found him, and we had him catch his breath on the side of the boat when we got up to him and then we pulled him in,” said Adams-Wainwright.
Penny and her owner, Chris Stephens, 27, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, were playing fetch on Peirce Island when a long toss took Penny out into the current. Stephens swam out to save Penny when he was caught up in the current as well.
They were both brought to safety very quickly. Adams feared that if he didn’t move away from the shore fast his boat was going to ground out.
“I just wanted to get out of there before we ruined the boat,” he said. “We got him out of the boat. We got the dog out of the boat. Then we got out of there. I was afraid I was getting hung up, and I would be in trouble. We just got out of there as soon as we could,” said Adams.
Steve Achilles, Portsmouth Deputy Fire Chief, said Stephens refused medical treatment from Portsmouth paramedics at the scene and chose not to be transported to Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
Both Stephens and his dog appeared to be okay at the scene. However, both Adams-Wainwright and Adams do not think they would have been if it weren’t for them being there.
“There were other boats,” said Adams-Wainwright. “But no one noticed.”
“They just kept right on going,” said Adams.
Adams believed the dog and her owner had been distressed in the water for at least fifteen minutes before he and his granddaughter saved them. They had drifted off land about 100-150 yards, according to Adams.
The owner and the dog are both safe, but have not contacted the Maine heroes who saved their lives last week.
“Haven’t heard from him,” said Adams, a bit surprised.
Adams-Wainwright and Adams have been fishing together for more than five years now and have never had to rescue anyone from the river before.
However, Adams did save a kayaker in the York River a few years ago.
“He was just exhausted. He was going out with the tide,” said Adams.
They both caution all swimmers, local and from away, to be cautious of the tides in our area.
Adams-Wainwright has spent her summer days since she was eight years old with her grandfather, pulling in traps, bonding, and making hard-earned cash as she gains experience for her dream job as a marine biologist.
“She’ll have up to 150 traps next year,” said Adams.
After all these years, she says she has never caught anyone quite like she did last week. Just lobsters.