Man and woman rescued on Lake Wyola after canoe flips over after midnight

  • A tributary off of Lake Wyola in Shutesbury is covered in fallen leaves. FILE PHOTO


Staff Writer
Published: 10/1/2020 1:48:37 PM

SHUTESBURY — An intoxicated man and woman who flipped a canoe on Lake Wyola in the middle of the night were safely rescued from the water by Shutesbury firefighters early Thursday morning.

Fire Chief Walter Tibbetts said firefighters responded to the location after receiving an emergency call at 2:27 a.m. from friends of the boaters who remained on shore on Great Pines Drive. The victims in the water were approximately halfway out on the lake under a full moon.

“They were lucky that friends were there to call,” Tibbetts said.

As firefighters got to the scene, they went to the Lake Wyola Association beach at the corner of Lake and Great Pine drives, donned ice and cold water rescue suits and commandeered a privately owned rowboat to make their way to the victims, neither of whom was wearing a life jacket, and got them on board.

Once the man and woman were back on land, Amherst Fire Department paramedics evaluated them. Both declined medical attention, Tibbetts said. Firefighters were also able to recover the canoe.

Tibbetts said the rescue involved four on-call firefighters and a firefighter in training. In addition, two state police troopers were on scene, and mutual aid was received from Leverett, Wendell and New Salem fire departments.

“A lot of resources were involved for something that was entirely avoidable,” Tibbetts said.

Tibbetts said even though the victims were not operating a motorized craft and no criminal charges are being filed, they made a bad decision to go fishing in a canoe while under the influence of alcohol.

“Mixing alcohol and water sports is not a good combination,” Tibbetts said.

It is not expected that any fines will be issued, either, though state law requires anyone on a boat between Sept. 15 and May 15 to don a personal floatation device.

In addition, Tibbetts said the boaters used further bad judgment to be boating at a time when the weather is already getting colder, noting that hypothermia can set in much quicker in the fall than during the summer.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

This story was updated to correct the gender of the two people who flipped over in a canoe on the lake. 

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