Fortunate phone call saves boy from drowning in Kinneret

United Hatzalah uses new ‘Captain Berger II’ rescue boat to rescue floundering teen.

August 22, 2011 05:46
1 minute read.
‘Captain Berger II’ rescue boat

Captain Berger 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The life of a teenage boy sailing in Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) was saved last week by an alert person in Haifa who received a phone call from a friend in Tiberias.

The observer in Tiberias mentioned in passing during the phone conversation that in the fading sunlight, he thought he saw the boy and an adult, presumably his father, drifting in a kayak far out in waters of the lake.

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The man in Haifa telephoned Naftali Tottenberg, coordinator of the local United Hatzalah Farkas Haifa Division, to share his friend’s concern.

Farkas immediately contacted the voluntary rescue organization’s regional dispatcher, Shai Almakim, who triangulated communication between the observer on the beach and United Hatzalah’s water rescue unit.

Despite the darkness and the evening swells, the rescue unit raced to the beach to assist with the rescue efforts. Sharp-eyed water rescue commander Yossi Oknin was running grid patterns on the brand-new Captain Berger II rescue boat with his searchlights on when he made a final sweep of the area and his attention was caught by something in the distance.

He maneuvered the rescue boat toward the movement and spotted a 17-year-old boy barely treading water 2 kilometers out between to the Shikmim and Bernicki beaches.

The father, who also fell from the kayak, had safely reached shore.

Oknin and fellow rescuer Moshe Trebelsi hauled in the barely conscious teen. After initial fluid replacement therapy on the boat and additional care from the medics on the beach he was released. The boy, an experienced swimmer, mentioned that he had gone swimming in the late afternoon and an undertow had carried him far from the beach.

He had been in the water for nearly three hours after falling out of the kayak and probably wouldn’t have survived for more than a few minutes before drowning. His parents thanked the “angels in orange” on land and in the water who had saved their son.

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