NEWTOWN, Conn. – Two friends spent hours walking in the dark and rain to find help for a third person after their small boat capsized in a Connecticut lake.
Sarah Kowats, of Norwalk, told The News-Times she and two others were shifting positions on Monday when one end of the 10-foot boat went underwater at Lake Lillinonah. Water started pouring into the vessel and it flipped over.
The 21-year-old said she and Wayne Pelham, 26, swam ashore while Shane Barrese, her 28-year-old boyfriend, struggled in the water. He was wearing large boots that were weighing him down, and his arm was caught on a fishing line.
They said they pulled Barrese ashore, but he blacked out after swallowing too much water. After several failed attempts to awaken him, they said they strapped Barrese to a tree and spent the next five hours searching for a way out of the nearly 2,000-acre Paugussett State Forest through rain and thunder.
"We screamed for help and no one heard us," Kowats said. "We were climbing rocks in the middle of the woods. There were no trails. ... We were scared, afraid to run into animals."
Barrese woke up hours later to an empty and dark shoreline.
"I was in a panic," he said. "I kind of stumbled around, walked barefoot for a while. ... I was freezing cold, so I laid down, covered myself with leaves to try to keep myself warm."
Eventually, Kowats and Pelham found a trail and made their way to Newton where they flagged down an officer on patrol. The officer then called firefighters, who found Barrese on Tuesday. The three were treated at Danbury Hospital.
Kowats said the group lost their boat, cellphones, keys, wallets, clothes and other items in the capsize. She received two tickets on Thursday for reckless boating and insufficient safety gear.