Category: Archive

2 Belfast students honored for rescue of New York boater

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

While boating on the lake, Terry McGuinness and David McHugh, both 19, came across Michael Speckman, 37, face down and unconscious in the water.
The two were visiting the U.S. for a week, and had been taken out boating by their host’s brother, Michael Mager, when they came across Speckman. They pulled him out of the water and he survived.
Last week, they went to the town hall in Carmel for a brief award ceremony and thanks.
“It’s our way of thanking you and acknowledging your efforts,” Supervisor Frank Del Campo said.
Speckman was released from hospital and his sister told reporters that he was recovering well, although he has a large gash on the back of his head, a severe concussion and cracked vertebrae.
“He is lucky they were there and acted so quickly,” Tonya Speckman said.
Del Campo and local police officers presented the three rescuers with letters of commendation.
“You saved someone’s life, you really helped out,” Carmel police officer Ken Schmitt told them. He had been on the shore when they pulled their boat in with Speckman on board, unconscious, but alive.
The two teenagers were modest about the rescue. Both are university students: McGuinness is studying law and McHugh is majoring in math.
“We just went out on the lake for a fun spin about,” McGuinness said. “But before we went too far, we saw an empty jet ski and a guy floating.”
“He wasn’t breathing when we got him,” said Mager, who is trained in CPR and is a salesman for GPC, a pharmaceutical company in Yorktown.
Carmel police suspect Speckman was jumping behind the wake of a passing motorboat. He either slipped or was ejected from the watercraft while it was in the air and it fell on him, causing the injuries. They issued a boating violation to him.
McHugh and McGuinness, who are both Catholic, first came to New York five years ago through the Northern Ireland Children’s Enterprise program, which brings Catholic and Protestant children from Belfast to New York to learn about each other away from the hostilities of their homeland.
“I hope recalling your efforts will give you strength at the right moments,” Del Campo said. “You gave life to someone else. It will be with you the rest of your life.”
Lynnette Burns of Somers, the host of the Irish teens and Mager’s sister, said she was appreciative of the written commendation.
“Otherwise,” she told reporters, “they will get back home and folks will say they are telling an Irish tale.”

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