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Family thanks Smith Mountain Lake first responders for rescuing man
John LaTorre was rushed to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in under an hour
By Rob Manch - Reporter
Posted: 12:10 AM, July 18, 2017
Updated: 4:10 AM, July 18, 2017
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. - A rescue attempt on Smith Mountain Lake saved a man's life last Wednesday. It happened when 42-year-old John LaTorre fell seven feet off a house boat onto a railing, injuring his back.
"We were scared to death, we really were," said John's wife Cindy LaTorre.
She says as soon as her husband fell off the boat, she knew it was serious. Her friend immediately called 911.
"She kept telling them, it's just going to take too long. You have to come now," said LaTorre.
Then, just minutes later, LaTorre says their call was answered.
"We saw the two boats coming in with their lights and it was so, a really happy moment at that point," said LaTorre.
The rescue boats were able to locate the house boat in a remote part of the lake at night, but Cool Branch Rescue Squad Captain Scottie Adams says they quickly realized their job was just beginning.
"It was determined that, with the back injury and so much pain, he would need to be flown to a trauma center," said Adams.
Adams says it took about 50 minutes to get LaTorre to Roanoke Memorial's Trauma Center, but he says, without the support of Smith Mountain Lake Marine Rescue boats, it could have taken up to two and a half hours.
"We were able to assist in handing them equipment and making sure that the transport was safe and talking to the patients, letting them know that everything was taken care of," said Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire and Rescue President Tom Lovegrove.
Adams says recently, accidents like LaTorre's have become more common on the lake.
"In the last year, year to two, we have had some bad accidents, some fatalities, but in the past three or four years before that we haven't. It looks like it's increasing," said Adams.
That's why crews say it's not only important to be safe, but also know how to help others find you in an emergency.
"Where's the navigational marker out there so you can give your first responders the ability to get to you as fast as you can," said Lovegrove.
As for LaTorre, she says her husband has three broken vertebrae and four broken ribs, but he will recover, thanks to the first-responders who got there in time.
"It looks like he'll be good. I think that quick response was big," said LaTorre.
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The Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire/Rescue is actively seeking new members. Members can be firefighters, EMT's or simply someone that wants to help the community. If you feel that you have that calling to help others, that is the person we would like to speak with. Please drop us a note on this page or submit an application at Bedford County Department of Fire and Rescue.
Remember, "MANY HANDS, MAKE LIGHT WORK"!