By Kayla Kingston
On a brisk, autumn day on Sunday, November 20, Eastern Christian dad Ken Kingston enjoys the array of fall colors while kayaking at Wawayanda State Park. Though he was enjoying being in this serene environment, he would soon find out that only his instincts would prepare him for what was to come.
Ken Kingston is the dad of two EC students: Maya Kingston and me. During the weekends, kayaking has let him unwind from a hectic week at work. Kayaking has been a passion of his for the last thirty years, so he has always been elated when his loved ones join him out on the water.
In the past, my father has kayaked on cooler days but on this day, there was a chilly breeze with only two other people on the lake with him. During his first hour of kayaking, he enjoyed looking at the beautiful surroundings, but as the day carried on he began to hear the sound of someone pounding on wood. He didn’t think much of it because the lake is surrounded by hiking trails so it could have been teenagers fooling around.
However, as he passed a cove near the shore, he saw a family waving their hands and screaming, “HELP!” At that moment, he paddled as fast as he could to them. Once he arrived, he saw a 10-year-old boy in emotional shock with parents who were freezing from their wet clothes.
“I felt like I had to take control because I was the only one who was level-headed at the time. The woman was in shock like she was speechless and the man was intensely shaking from the cold,” reports Kingston.
Supposedly, the man said that their boat’s motor got caught in the shallow water, which caused the boat to fill up with water. The parents were extremely cold. The father in particular looked as if he had mild hypothermia.
Previously, the family tried to pull the boat up onto the shore to empty the water, but there was too much. They needed a pump to get back to land. While they were trying to do this, the man’s phone fell in the water and the woman’s phone died. They were also unfamiliar with the lake, so overall, were helpless.
Once my father arrived he gave them a towel and some of the layers that he had on himself. He also lent them his pump because it was too difficult to pull up the boat onto the rocky shore. The man was in such poor physical condition that my father pumped out the rest of the water for him.
“I felt proud that I was able to help them. All of the safety precautions that I usually would bring are for someone else in need rather than myself. I bring extra stuff in my kayak because I know others may not have it,” says Kingston.
Once my father pumped out all of the water out of the boat, the motor began to work so they went back to shore. My father’s efforts let this family arrive on the shore in good physical condition.
This family of three was extremely grateful for my father’s kindness throughout this terrifying experience. This situation could have escalated because there were only a few people on the lake and the weather was cold.
“Before helping the family, I had a really intimate time with God when kayaking, and about fifteen minutes later, I was saving this family from a terrifying situation. I feel that God made me be in a peaceful state so I would be able to help them in that stressful situation,” says Kingston.