JON GARLOUGH AND JOHN DOXSEE’S DOG “PEPPER” relax after taking part in the rescue of a snowmobiler who went through the ice on Saturday night, Feb. 11, on Lake Winnipesaukee. (Courtesy photo) (click for larger version)
February 16, 2012TUFTONBORO — Tuftonboro resident John Doxsee's annual fishing derby party had an unusual twist this year. He and his friends were enjoying an evening of good food and homemade music following a day out on the ice on Saturday evening, Feb. 11, when his guest Jon Garlough brought a wet, cold, shivering incoherent man through the door.
"It's a Lassie story really," says Doxsee. His Black Labrador mix, Pepper, a rescue dog, had gone outside with Garlough and began barking furiously and unrelentingly down at the edge of the dock. Pepper refused to go back inside with Garlough. When Garlough joined him, further away from the loud music, he said he heard a faint cry for help.
Doxsee, relating the tale, said that Garlough saw the man walking toward him on the ice and went out to help him as he slipped back into the lake near the breakwater. He crawled up on the rocks and curled up in a fetal position. Garlough "hauled him inside. He was incoherent at first." The women removed some of his wet clothing and covered him in blankets as friend Bill Allen called 911.
When the call came in, Tuftonboro Fire and Rescue Chief Adam Thompson said they didn't immediately make the connection with the first call for help from Jason Quin, age 32, of Nashua, that alerted rescuers at 8:31 p.m. Quin had been able to make a cell phone call after he scrambled up onto the ice right after his snowmobile had broken through the ice and sunk, but he reported that he couldn't locate his friend.
Thompson said Tuftonboro Fire and Rescue launched the airboat from Thomas Point off of Tuftonboro Neck at 8:55 p.m. They quickly realized that the man who had come to shore at the Doxsee residence was Quin's missing friend, Derek Couture. One crew was dispatched to the area of 17 Eaglemere South. Tuftonboro's Engine 1, Rescue 1, Car 1, as well as North Conway Ambulance and Tuftonboro Police Department all converged on the scene.
Another crew, said Thompson, stayed with the boat and "was in direct contact with Alton and Gilford Fire/Rescue as well as the DART helicopter, which had located [Quin] and was hovering over him with a spotlight on, so that Boat 2's crew could pick him up".
According to Officer Mike Eastman of New Hampshire Fish and Game, Quin was found in Alton with assistance also from the Alton Fire Department, Gilford Fire-Rescue and the Gilford Police Department and helicoptered by DART to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia.
Couture, age 34, from Manchester, was in good hands on shore in Tuftonboro. Unbelievably, said Doxsee, "he had managed to haul himself back onto the ice and walked for an hour." Couture was transported to Huggins Hospital and met by Fish and Game officer Ron Arseneault.
The two snowmobilers survived their hypothermia thanks to the extensive network of rescue and medical personnel, but both were also arrested for Operating Under the Influence.
Doxsee, for his part, is very proud of his dog Pepper, who joined their family after being "saved at the last minute some years ago by Wolfeboro resident Judith Apy, who operates Canine Guardians for Life dog rescue, and says that he "thought it was ironic that a rescued dog herself became a 'rescue dog.' …Without her persistent barking this situation almost certainly would not have had the happy ending that it did."