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Ritchie honoring two Park Police officers for saving boater

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OGDENSBURG - State Senator Patty Ritchie will present two New York state Park Police officers with the New York State Liberty Award Tuesday for their role in rescuing a man from the St. Lawrence River last summer.

In June, New York State Park Police Officers John J. Friot Jr. and Dustin T. Lottie rescued a 70-year-old boater after he was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes while piloting a 28-foot cabin cruiser.

Thomas L. Clark doesn’t remember much about the two state park police officers who rescued him on the St. Lawrence River on that Saturday morning in June after he was overcome by fumes while piloting a 28-foot cabin cruiser.

Officers Friot and Lottie took control of Mr. Clark’s boat as it careened toward a dam while he was incapacitated at the controls.

Mr. Clark said he was returning his boat to the Robert Moses State Park marina after having mechanical work done when the boat began to stall. He used marine radio to summon help shortly before 11 a.m. June 1.

When officers Friot and Lottie arrived, Mr. Clark had started the boat up again. They decided it was still best to escort him into the marina, several miles away.

“It stalled out again and I got it started,” Mr. Clark said in a telephone interview in June.

One of the engine manifold pipes had blown a hole. He recalls lifting the engine hatch, dropping it on his foot and smelling exhaust.

“And that was the last thing I remember.”

Fumes quickly filled the enclosed cabin. The officers watched in horror as Mr. Clark’s boat veered sharply toward the Long Sault Control Dam.

“We could see he was slumped over the helm,” Officer Friot said.

Officer Lottie quickly maneuvered the patrol boat alongside the out-of-control cabin cruiser. Officer Friot said adrenaline took hold as he leapt up onto Mr. Clark’s vessel.

Officer Friot managed to stop the boat about 200 feet from the dam, Officer Lottie said. But the boat wouldn’t start again, and it was clear Mr. Clark was in urgent need of medical attention.

They quickly switched places. Officer Lottie managed to get the boat started, opened the cabin to let in fresh air and headed for the marina. There, an ambulance took Mr. Clark to Massena Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and later released.

Senator Ritchie will present the officers with the Liberty Award at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Dobisky Visitor’s Center in Ogdensburg.

The New York State Senate Liberty Award is one of the highest civilian honors that a New Yorker can receive. Similar to the national Congressional Gold Medal, the award is given to individuals who have merited special commendation for exceptional, heroic, or humanitarian acts and achievements on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers.

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