Three friends rescue injured jet skier
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Man knocked unconscious after crashing into wave

Published July 17, 2008
Paul Wilson almost didn't have a chance to thank the group of boaters who plucked him from the Magothy River Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Wilson, 38, of Annapolis said the last thing he remembers is a large wave washing over his jet ski. He hit the wave and was sent sailing. The jet ski hit him in the head, giving him a sizable gash. He also started to take water into his lungs.

That's when three friends returning from nearby Dobbin's Island dove into the river without even grabbing life preservers to rescue the stranger floating in the water.

"That dude looked like he just killed himself," Kyle Timme, 20, recalled his friend Ryan Hartsock, 21, saying after seeing the accident.

Along with Mike Slaughter, 21, the friends from Pasadena managed to carry the unconscious Mr. Wilson, who was wearing a life vest, back to their 21-foot boat. During the swim back, Mr. Wilson awoke and asked what was going on.

"He didn't know he was on his jet ski, or where he was, or anything," Mr. Timme said. "He had a cut on the left side of his head, over the top of his ear to his eye. There wasn't really that much blood though."

Mr. Wilson said he thinks he hit the handlebars of his jet ski after the wave crashed into him and everything is cloudy after that. The next thing he remembers is waking up on Mr. Hartsock's boat.

"I was kind of shocked," Mr. Wilson said. "I'm thankful. They saved my life."

They then drove him to a private pier at about 5:20 p.m. as instructed by the county Fire Department, and when Natural Resources Police arrived, the group of friends was gone. Officers have since concluded their investigation into the crash and determined that it was an accident.

But since the rescue, Mr. Hartsock, Mr. Slaughter and Mr. Timme have received commendations from their friends and family.

"(The publicity) is not necessary," said Mr. Slaughter. "That's not why you'd (rescue someone), to get recognized. You do it because it's the right thing to do."

They said they haven't seen Mr. Wilson again, but learned from a relative of that he's been improving. Mr. Wilson has been treated and released from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

County firefighters drove Mr. Wilson to the Baltimore hospital where he was treated for his wounds and water in his lungs and released Monday.

When asked if he'd be taking the jet ski out on the water anytime soon, he said, "I think I'm done with it."

Sgt. Ken Turner, Natural Resources Police spokesman, said he was pleased everything worked out well, but he wanted to remind boaters to take their life jackets along if they are in a similar situation.

"The last thing you want to do is create another victim," he said. "You want to make sure of your own personal safety when you respond. Do not jump into an incident that is unsafe for your personal safety."