On Saturday night, the 8th of September, tragedy struck when a man fell off of the Provincetown II ferry into the waters of Boston Harbor. The incident happened near the southwest side of Peddocks Island, where Hopedale Troop 1 was camping overnight. The ship was passing the island directly in front of the Troop’s beachfront campfire. Suddenly, the music from the ship stopped, and the ship became motionless in front of the island for several minutes. When police boats were seen responding to the scene, Mark Andolina from Hopedale, a Veteran of the US Navy, retrieved a VHF radio from his boat and turned it on. The Troop learned that the ferry had reported a man overboard. Both Mr. Andolina and an Assistant Scoutmaster, Scott Seaver of Hopedale, assisted the efforts in the search using Mr. Andolina’s vessel. While they were getting underway John Hagan, one of the senior Boy Scouts in the Troop, took the initiative to ask permission to search the shoreline in the event the person made it to the island. He was accompanied by three other Scouts, Anthony DeBoer, Benjamin DeBoer, and Quynh St. Germain.
As Peddocks Island appeared to be the closest land mass to the ship, it was conceivable that someone in the water would try to swim to shore. Mr. Hagan led his ‘on-land’ search party, walking the shores of the island. Mr. Andolina alerted the Coast Guard by radio that Boy Scouts on the island were searching the shore line. As they started their search, the four boys recalled their various education in lifesaving and first aid. They assigned tasks in the event that they were able to locate the man if he swam to shore. They made sure they had a phone ready to dial 911. They discussed the possible need to enter the water while others were prepared to treat hypothermia. For 3 hours the boys searched the waters near the shore. The State Police and Coast Guard valued the assistance of the Scouts and contacted the group several times to request specific search areas. This freed up the limited State Police and Coast Guard resources to search other areas. “I’m very proud that the authorities had so much confidence in our Scouts that they were requesting specific search areas, using them as just another valued resource in their efforts. They had confidence that these young men would do the right thing” said Scott Seaver. It was a somber morning on Sunday for the Troop when the boys heard of the tragic ending.
The town of Hopedale should be incredibly proud to have these young men as part of our community. The leadership that they display at every opportunity is an inspiration to others.