Distressed Kayaker on Lake George Saved by Priests on Floating Tiki Bar: 'He Was in Trouble'
A kayaker in distress on Lake George was pulled to safety thanks to the quick-thinking actions of priests on board a Tiki Tours boat.
Jimmy MacDonald, a drug counselor from Albany, New York, was out on Lake George on August 11 with his wife and stepchildren, when the kayak he had rented capsized as he was on his phone.
"My pride, my ego told me I'll figure this out," MacDonald told NBC WNYT. However, despite his attempts to right the boat, he was becoming exhausted with his life preserver rising to the level of his head.
"And that's when I said, 'I think I might die today, this might be it,' " he said to the NBC affiliate.
It was then that MacDonald, who is seven years sober, prayed for assistance.
It happened to be members of a missionary society, the Paulist Fathers, on a retreat on the lake who answered his call from the Tiki Tour boat.
Luckily for MacDonald, the priests and seminarians who were on the floating Tiki bar helped him onto the boat after Captain Greg Barrett, who believed what happened was a "divine intervention," directed the boat toward him.
"It seemed like something was off," Noah Ismael, a first-year theologian who was part of the St. Mary’s on the Lake retreat, told the Times Union. "He was holding onto a kayak and it looked like it had taken on water somehow. He was yelling 'help.' It was interesting because there was other people around and none of them seemed to stop. So the captain of the tiki boat nosed the boat over to him. Myself and the dock hand (Debbie Oliveira), we dragged him out of the water."
When Barrett saw MacDonald, the captain said that when they "saw his eyes, the size of silver dollars, we knew he was in trouble," he told the Times Union.
The irony of his rescue is not lost on MacDonald.
"How funny is it that I've been sober for seven years and I get saved by a Tiki bar?" MacDonald told NBC WNYT.
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"For us, that day, that was our mission: to be present and to help someone in need," Chris Malano, a seminarian of the Paulist Fathers society, told the outlet.
Barrett, who offered up his tour boat for free to the group, told the Times Union that once aboard, MacDonald asked for a prayer and the priests and seminaries obliged him.
"Asking for help sooner would have been a good idea, instead of waiting 'til it nearly cost me my life," MacDonald said to the NBC outlet, comparing his current experience to his past struggles with addiction.