An 85-year-old man injured in a jet ski accident in Georgetown Saturday was upgraded from critical to fair condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland on Monday, a hospital spokesman said.

Richard Russell, 85, of West Gardiner, was found floating face down in the water after falling from his jet ski near MacMahan Island at around 11:30 a.m. Local lobsterman Jamie Pinkham of Georgetown saw Russell fall, plucked him from the water and rushed him ashore at Robinhood Marina, according to Georgetown Fire Chief  Justin LoDolce.

“Jamie was hauling traps and saw it happen and I guess he floored it as fast as he could and found the guy upside down in the water,” LoDolce said Monday.

Russell was unconscious and unresponsive at that point, according to Cpl. Ian Alexander with the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office. He was wearing a life jacket, which kept him afloat until help could arrive. A nurse from a nearby boat jumped aboard to perform CPR once Pinkham docked at the marina, and soon a doctor and second nurse joined to help from another boat.

“Thank god they were there,” Alexander said.

By the time Alexander arrived, Russell was groaning and coming to.

Russell was taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick and later to Maine Medical Center where he was listed in critical condition over the weekend.

More than a dozen firefighters responded along with a paramedic from Mid Coast Hospital’s Advanced Life Support Program which provides support to Georgetown. Many members of the volunteer fire department were away Saturday, including LoDolce. However, it was lucky that Pinkham, the nurses and doctor were nearby to help.

“You never know, that person next to you, they could be your local hero or someone who will go above and beyond to help you,” LoDolce said.

“The fact that Jamie was there to spot the incident, get over there and immediately work to get that guy out of the water; the fact that that nurse was right there and then to provide immediate (cardiopulmonary ) resuscitation on that individual, those folks are the heroes to this story,”  LoDolce said.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources was unable to provide the names of the nurses and doctor who helped save Russell’s life on Monday and no other information was available.

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Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Marines Resources, said jet skiers should adhere to general boating safety tips. Wear a life jacket or personal flotation device, dress for the water temperatures, have some kind of communications technology and visual distress signaling device and make sure people know where you’re going.

Jet ski safety tips from the Sea Tow Foundation for Boater Safety and Education:

  • Always wear a life jacket rated for impact and approved for use on a personal watercraft. The life jacket should fit well without being loose and no loose clothing should be worn. Make sure that any passengers wear a life jacket, too.
  • Attach the engine cut-off lanyard to the life jacket. That way if the operator is thrown overboard, the engine will stop. Without the safety lanyard, many jet skis will continue to run in circles which can seriously injure people in the water.
  • Each jet ski is required to carry a fire extinguisher. Make sure that the fire extinguisher is up to date and ready for use.
  • Schedule your jet ski for regular maintenance according to the owner’s manual. Check the vessel for signs of wear and replace any worn out parts.
  • Take a boating safety class.




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