James B. Stack saved Randall T. Bruckner and helped attempt to save Julia Cassidy from drowning, Whitefish, Montana, April 11, 1999. At night, Bruckner, 30, and Ms. Cassidy, 22, fell from a boat into the frigid water of Whitefish Lake at a point about 600 feet from the closer shore. They yelled for help, attracting the attention of residents of the area. One of the residents, Stack, 47, financial advisor, launched a whitewater kayak and, with a second in tow, paddled through the darkness toward the sound of the yelling. The only light available was from Stack’s flashlight, which he held with his mouth as he paddled. While Stack was en route, the second kayak disconnected, its use thus lost to him. When Stack found the victims, one of them lunged at his kayak, threatening to upset it. Stack directed Bruckner and Ms. Cassidy to hold to the back of the kayak, and he then began to paddle back toward shore. Bruckner retained his hold, but Ms. Cassidy, overcome by exposure to the cold water, did not. Stack reached shore, where others took charge of Bruckner. Stack then turned and paddled back several hundred feet into the lake. Finding Ms. Cassidy again, he held her partway out of the water and called for help to rescue personnel, who had by then arrived on shore. Two firefighters wearing insulated dry suits swam out to the kayak, guided by Stack’s yelling, then by his flashlight as they neared. Holding to the kayak, the firefighters secured Ms. Cassidy and attempted to revive her as Stack paddled back to shore, the firefighters and Ms. Cassidy in tow. Bruckner and Ms. Cassidy were hospitalized for treatment of hypothermia. Bruckner recovered, but Ms. Cassidy was pronounced dead of drowning within hours. Stack recovered from coldness and exhaustion.
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