By Jill Fox
At the Parkland City Commission meeting on Wednesday, two courageous teens were recognized for their lifesaving efforts after jumping into the water to save two men in an overturned canoe near Loxahatchee Road.
On February 7, just before 6 p.m., the Coral Springs-Parkland Fire Department received a call about an overturned boat in the Hillsboro Canal.
According to Assistant Fire Chief Steve Frey, two older men were out fishing in a canoe and a couple who were fishing nearby called 911 after witnessing their canoe flip over.
Parkland District Sgt. Ian Sklar was the first emergency responder to the scene and flagged down Luke Mason, 16, and Domenic Mazza, 18, from Boca Raton on their way in from fishing in the Everglades. Sgt. Sklar jumped into their boat, and they headed for the struggling men who were hanging onto the upside down canoe.
“The condition the men were in, they didn’t have much longer to hold on,” said Frey.
Despite knowing alligators frequent the canal, Mason and Mazza jumped into the water to save the two men.
“They had to literally grab them and lift them out of the water and into their boat. Then they brought the gentlemen and their boat back to shore,” said Frey, who also said this accident could have had a very different outcome if not for the willingness of Mason and Mazza to risk their own safety trying to save others.
“Thank you to them and Sgt. Sklar for their quick and heroic action,” said Mayor Christine Hunschofsky. “It was an honor to recognize them for their bravery and willingness to help someone who was in danger.”
According to Frey, the teens and the officer saved the lives of those men who were in no shape to swim to safety. The fishermen knew they couldn’t make it to shore because their boat was upside down, and were out too far on a cool night.
He said that since the incident happened at sunset, it was lucky that the couple had seen the canoe flip over.
“It was a cool night. If they hadn’t seen them, we wouldn’t have had the same outcome, I guarantee it,” said Frey.
He said when citizens do something above and beyond, they are often recognized by the city commission for their hard work, therefore the City of Parkland wanted to acknowledge these two young men for their lifesaving efforts that day.