Boat Debate Reveals Dive Team Heroism

Posted on 12 January 2012

When an elderly East Hampton man’s vehicle flew off the commercial dock on Gann Road in Springs on January 4 and proceeded to sink, virtually every local fire department dive team, police force, and ocean rescue squad joined the United States Coast Guard in an effort to rescue 90-year-old Halsey Ludlow Dickinson.

While Dickinson succumbed to his injuries in a case still under investigation and pending results from the Suffolk County Medical Examiners office, it was two members of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team who ultimately located Dickinson and pulled his body from the wreckage.

On Tuesday night, Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Chief Pete Garypie said the names of the two divers cannot be released as the investigation is still pending.

According to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, the water temperatures were a frigid 33 degrees late that afternoon as dive teams attempted to reach Dickinson. Equipment was freezing, but eventually after one diver from Sag Harbor descended and located Dickinson, another quickly followed and was able to bring his body to the surface.

It was the second response to a submerged vehicle the dive team from Sag Harbor, and other municipalities, had made in two days. Teams also responded on January 3 to reports of a vehicle driving into the Peconic side of the Shinnecock Canal. Eighty-year-old Simon Flaherty, the driver of that vehicle, was later pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital.

Mayor Gilbride had planned to commend the village’s fire department for their efforts in both cases at Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, but found himself discussing the situation a little earlier in the agenda than originally planned, after some members of the crowd questioned the village’s decision to purchase a surplus 26-foot boat from East Hampton Town at a cost of $40,000. The boat boasts an enclosed cab with heat, and Mayor Gilbride said is in far better shape than the existing boats the dive team has on hand.

According to Mayor Gilbride, the boat has an estimated value of close to $50,000.

“Do we need this boat,” asked Deputy Mayor Tim Culver before the board voted on the measure.

Mayor Gilbride said he believed it was a necessary addition to the department’s dive team, which already has a 12-foot, inflatable boat, as well as a 22-foot fiberglass Boston Whaler that does not have a cab, and according to Mayor Gilbride is rife with cracks.

When questioned by a member of the audience what the boat would be used for, Mayor Gilbride recounted the dive team’s efforts in East Hampton. After the meeting, he said the divers were so frozen after the rescue, and without a boat that has a closed cabin or heat, needed to be warmed up in an existing ambulance until their toes and fingers had movement again.

He added that the $40,000 will come out of the village’s contingency fund, but will be repaid to the village when it works out its 2012-2013 budget, which will include discussions with the fire department about their vehicle reserve account.

The motion was unanimously adopted by the village board, including Culver.

Residents Rally for Windmill Repairs

Following the revelation that the iconic windmill on the aptly named Windmill Beach is in need of serious repairs, Save Sag Harbor President Mia Grosjean queried the village board on Tuesday night about the ownership of the windmill in an effort to inform her board so they may help in the effort.

The Village of Sag Harbor, led by Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley, has already spent $9,000 on fixing the windmill, but may need an estimated $25,000 to finish a full repair of the structure, which was constructed in the late 1960s, according to Nada Barry, one of the Sag Harbor residents who she said turned out “to bang nails” and erect the windmill from scratch.

Grosjean asked if the village owned the land under the windmill and who owned the windmill itself. She also asked if the village carried insurance that could cover the cost of repairs.

Mayor Gilbride said that while the village does the own the windmill, it does not own the land underneath it. The land was supposed to have been transferred to the village from Suffolk County in the 1980s, along with the whole of Windmill Beach, but the deal was never finalized. As the village has been in negotiations over the ownership of Long Wharf with Suffolk County it has also been attempting to finally secure ownership of the beach parcels as well.

According to Mayor Gilbride, Yardley will have a final figure on the cost of the repairs, which includes replacing the floors and the forearms of the windmill as well as re-shingling the entire exterior, next week. Yardley is also working with the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, and Save Sag Harbor, to see if funds can be raised for the project.

Washington Street Lot Will Not Revert to 2-Hour Parking

Sag Harbor Planning Board member Larry Perrine was rebuffed by Mayor Gilbride on Tuesday evening after requesting, with the support of Cape Advisors spokesman David Kronman and some local business owners, that the parking lot on Washington Street be made two-hour parking as opposed to its newest designation, which allows residents to park for up to seven days.

Perrine is also the current chair of a liaison committee set up to handle any issues that may arise during the two-year construction of the condominiums in the former watchcase factory. He said the consensus was having the lot become a two-hour parking lot would aid businesses on Washington Street who may be burdened by the loss of parking spaces near their stores as a result of the construction plan.

The change, said Perrine, was requested as one that would be temporary.

However, Mayor Gilbride said the lot was needed by people who work in the village and need a parking space for more than two-hours. Additional parking, he added, has opened up nearby, on Rysam and East Union streets.

Mayor Gilbride also questioned how businesses were being impacted in December and January, when parking abounds in the village and things are generally slower.

Perrine countered that the impacts would be felt down the road, as the busy summer season nears.

Mayor Gilbride replied the situation would have to be looked at on an ongoing basis.

“And I am encouraging that,” said Perrine.

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2 Responses to “Boat Debate Reveals Dive Team Heroism”

  1. What caused his vehicle to fly off the dock – was it ice?

    Diving into such freezing water was heroic. It’s just a shame that the person couldn’t be saved.

    Would the purpose of the new boat to make it easier for the crew to keep warm?

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