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Life saved by life jacket

National Park Service park rangers retrieving a submerged canoe after a fisherman fell into the icy water.


January 24, 2014

A fisherman considers himself extremely lucky to be alive after falling into the frigid waters of the Delaware River on Monday, January 20th.

In the early evening, 51 year old John Stravalle of Newburgh, NY decided to go fishing just off the Lackawaxen Access in Lackawaxen, PA.

After attempting to retrieve his anchor Stravalle found himself falling overboard from his canoe into the 33 degree waters of the Delaware River. He began the difficult task of swimming to shore which was hampered by the cold water and his water logged clothing. Once on shore he crawled up the bank of the river and was assisted by a local homeowner.

Before launching his canoe Stravalle just happened to read a sign on the access bulletin board that stated “Mandatory wear of the Life Jacket Nov. 1st – April 30th.” “This sign saved my life” stated Stravalle. He made that lifesaving decision to put on his life jacket which made all the difference that day.

National Park Service (NPS) park rangers enforce boating regulations and spend a great deal of time encouraging both boaters and swimmers to wear their life jackets. The new mandatory wear regulation during cold water months was created as an attempt to decrease the number of cold weather boating fatalities due to hypothermia and resulting drowning.

The NPS encourages visitors to wear their life jackets year round because there has never been a drowning on the Delaware of someone who was wearing a properly fitted life jacket.

Boating and judgment errors nearly cost Stravalle his life but his one good decision to wear a life jacket saved it!

Caption: National Park Service park rangers retrieving the submerged canoe.
Photo credit: National Park Service