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Published: Tuesday, 8/16/2005

Cruise boat rescues man from Maumee River fall

Paramedics treat Richard Cole, 24, who was rescued from the Maumee River near I-280. Paramedics treat Richard Cole, 24, who was rescued from the Maumee River near I-280.

The Sandpiper cruise vessel rescued a 24-year-old man from the Maumee River under the Craig Memorial Bridge yesterday after the man said he was in the water nearly three hours.

Boat Capt. Hector Solis said he heard Richard B. Cole, who gave an address of 150 Elgin Ave., call for help while the boat, carrying children from the Catholic Club, was touring the river shortly after noon.

Authorities said Mr. Cole was wanted on domestic violence and assault charges.

Mr. Solis, who works as a Toledo firefighter, said Mr. Cole was clinging to a pillar under the Craig bridge when the boat passed.

He said he moved the boat near Mr. Cole and threw him a life ring.

Mr. Cole grabbed the ring, and Mr. Solis and Patrick Yarnell, one of the Catholic Club assistants, pulled Mr. Cole from the water into the boat.

Mr. Solis said the Coast Guard arrived shortly afterward and took Mr. Cole to Brenner Marine.

"I think the kids were excited to be part of a rescue," said Michael Burzynski, recreational program coordinator for the Catholic Club. "I think there was some concern at first, but we talked about the rescue and being part of a rescue."

Mr. Yarnell said he was happy to have played a part in saving someone's life.

"[Mr. Cole] had a swollen eye and looked like he had been out there a long time," said Mr. Yarnell, a senior at the University of Toledo. "I'm glad we heard him because there's no telling how much longer he would have been out there."

Sgt. Richard Murphy said Mr. Cole told officers he fell off the Craig bridge about 9:30 a.m. Sergeant Murphy confirmed the arrest warrants for Mr. Cole and said police are investigating his story.

"If it happened the way he said it happened, he's lucky to have survived that fall," Mr. Solis said.

Mary Dalby, co-owner of the Sandpiper, said it was her vessel's first rescue in the 13 years she's been associated with the boat. "This is something that we've always trained for, and it's nice to see that training paid off and that everything went well," Ms. Dalby said.

Mr. Cole was in the St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center emergency room late yesterday. His condition was unavailable.

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