A man was found clinging to a tree in the water nearly an hour after he and four others were thrown from a boat when it drifted over the York Haven Dam on the Susquehanna River on Sunday.
Pilots in a STAT MedEvac 13 helicopter spotted the man downriver of the dam and directed rescuer's boats to him, said Mark Sanders, chief of Susquehanna Fire Co. in York Haven.
The man was in the frigid water for about an hour. He and a woman who was also in the water for a shorter amount of time were taken to Hershey Medical Center, said Bart Shellenhamer, chief of Londonderry Township (Dauphin County) Fire Co.
"He was cold," Shellenhamer said. "The temperature of the water is still pretty cold."
Authorities have not released the names of the boaters, who were all wearing life jackets. None were seriously injured.
Distress: Shellenhamer said crews were dispatched to the river about 2:50 p.m. for a report of a boat with apparent motor problems in distress just north of the dam.
While on the way, crews were alerted that the 18-foot boat with five people on board drifted over the low-head dam near York Haven, he said.
"Coming over the dam ... I don't think it's something I'd like to have happen," Sanders said.
Everyone on board went into the water, but three were able to get back into the boat, Shellenhamer said.
The three boaters were able to pull the woman from the water but lost sight of the man.
Rescuers in boats from York, Lancaster and Dauphin counties searched for the man but had no luck and called in the STAT MedEvac 13 and a state police helicopter.
Sanders said the STAT MedEvac helicopter crew, which is based at the York Airport in Thomasville, had offered their services during past searches, and rescuers decided to take them up on the offer on Sunday.
Spotted: The man had attempted to swim to shore but didn't make it, Shellenhamer said.
The air ambulance crew spotted him hanging onto a tree in the water and directed rescuers in boats to his location.
He and the woman were taken to waiting ambulances in Dauphin County and transported to Hershey Medical Center. The three other boaters were taken to the York County side of the river.
The temperature of the water was 52, according to the National Weather Service.
According to the Center for Disease Control, hypothermia can occur when someone is in water that is below 70.
Sanders and Shellenhamer said the outcome could have been very much different.
"They are very lucky," Sanders said of the boaters.
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