Father and Son Honored by Red Cross
Rolf Winters and his son, Curt, have a close relationship. The two live nearby and lobster together.Recently, this father and son from South Thomaston formed an even tighter bond, when they saved the life of not one, but two people.Joy Hollowell brings us the story of two more American Red Cross Heroes.=====Rolf Winters was getting ready to head out on the water last September, when he went to start his boat’s motor.”And it didn’t start,” he says.Rolf called his son, Curt, down to the South Thomaston Public Landing to help haul the skiff out.”We just got the boat on the trailer and we’re about ready to leave and I heard a crash,” says Curt Winters. “Turned around just in time to see a car flying through the air and into the river.”"I’ve never seen anything like it before,” says Rolf Winters. “The car literally went quite high. We could tell that two people were in it, because we could see them.”The SUV landed about 25 feet from the floating dock.”It just kind of splashed in and just started bobbing for awhile,” says Curt Winters.Rolf winters called 9-1-1. Curt hopped in a skiff and paddled out to the now sinking car.”They weren’t moving, they weren’t doing anything,” says Curt Winters. “And I went up to them and I said- you gotta get out, you gotta get out. Tried the door, the door wouldn’t open. The windows were up at first and the driver managed to get the driver’s side window down. And once I realized I couldn’t get the doors open, I told the driver he had to come out through the window. And I pulled him out.”At the same time, Rolf found another skiff. he headed out to his son.”When I got there, Curt had him out of the car,” says Rolf Winters. “So I went over and grabbed a hold of him and I was holding onto him on the side of the skiff.” The man told Rolf that his foot had gone numb. He had pulled into the town landing to stop, but instead of hitting the brake, he pressed on the accelerator.”He had just a complete dazed look on his face,” says Rolf Winters. “I had him by his arms, right around here, and had him right up on the side of the boat. So, he wasn’t going anywhere. We were all set.”As Curt headed back to rescue the woman, he watched in horror as the car sank.”All I was thinking the whole time was, this poor guy’s wife is going to die right here in front of him. I really, I didn’t think that she was going to make it,” he says.Curt dove down into the chilly water. “I could just see a murky figure of her. Her arms were kind of out like this,” he says.Curt couldn’t reach the woman from the passenger side. He came up for air, then went back down a second time.”Had to go through the rear window on the driver’s side,” he says. “I just scooped up underneath her arms and pulled her between the seats and out the window. As soon as I broke the surface of the water, she started coughing, which was a huge relief for me because I wasn’t sure if she was even alive or not.”Curt swam the woman over to shore. He then headed back out to his father and the driver. Turns out the motor on that skiff also wasn’t working.”So they were drifting out with the tide,” says Curt Winters. “So I swam out and towed that boat back in, swimming it back to shore.”The driver was able to get himself up on shore. His passenger, who had swallowed quite a bit of water, was taken to a local hospital.That night, Rolf and Curt heard the woman would be OK. They also received several phone calls from the driver as well as family members, thanking them over the over again.”Good, it felt really good. I felt really proud,” says Rolf Winters, gesturing over to his son.”I’m a little humbled and taken back by it,” says Curt Winters. “You know, all the recognition that came out of this. I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time, I guess. I hope I don’t have to do it again,” he says with a smile.+++Rolf and Curt Winters were recognized by the American Red Cross in November for their heroic actions that day.