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Sea Tow operator wins C-PORT award

Capt. Jon G. Gridley, co-owner of Sea Tow Clarks Hill Lake, S.C., and Georgia, was honored Jan. 9 with an international lifesaving award by the Association for Rescue at Sea Inc. at the 25th Conference of Professional Operators for Response Towing at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa, Fla.

The Association for Rescue at Sea C-PORT Award, which recognizes extraordinary bravery exhibited by a member of C-PORT during an on-water rescue, was presented to Gridley and his friend, Jim Masiongale, who also participated in the incident, by Steve Sawyer, Association for Rescue at Sea president and retired captain at the Coast Guard Office of Search and Rescue.

July 4 is a day when boaters across the country traditionally enjoy spending time with their families on the water. But last year the afternoon turned ugly for a family on a houseboat on Clarks Hill Lake on the South Carolina/Georgia border when an intense thunderstorm with winds in excess of 50 knots hit the area.

A man and a young boy were blown into the water from the houseboat; a firefighter who was a guest on board jumped in after them, but had trouble staying afloat in the rough wave conditions.

Masiongale, who witnessed the scene from shore, immediately ran to alert Gridley.

Gridley launched his Sea Tow boat and they raced to the scene. He and Masiongale quickly pulled the first man and the boy, who was wearing a life jacket, to safety. The firefighter appeared to be in danger of drowning, but Gridley was able to get him onto the Sea Tow boat and revive him by administering CPR.

“If Jim had not reacted as quickly as he did to get my attention, it could have been a very bad situation. Being in the right spot at the right time was, I think, very critical,” Gridley said in a statement. “This is very humbling; it’s the highest award given to a civilian in the United States by AFRAS and C-PORT.”

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