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While fishing at Mundo Lake south of Dulce last week, Nick Quint landed what he called “the biggest catch of my life.”
Quint and other members of his Albuquerque family helped rescue a distressed fisherman, whose one-man pontoon boat had come apart with him strapped in it.
“His calls for help were pretty harrowing and made the hair on my neck stand up,” said Quint, 26. “It was a scream from someone fighting for his life. One side of the flotation came detached from the rest of the pontoon and tipped him on the side. He was in a sort of net and he was struggling to get out of it, which probably added to his panic.”
Quint, along with his parents, Sherryl and Tim Quint, sister Hannah Quint, and Hannah’s friend, Alexandria Gilbert, all jumped into action. Good thing, too. The only other person fishing that Monday was the distressed fisherman’s brother, who was farther out in the lake on his own one-man pontoon boat and too far away to immediately provide aid.
Hannah, 25, a recent graduate from the University of New Mexico’s EMS (emergency medical services) program, grabbed a pair of binoculars to quickly assess the situation.
COURTESY OF QUINT FAMILY Fishing at Mundo Lake, left to right: Tim Quint, Sherryl Quint, Nick Quint, Hannah Quint and Alexandria Gilbert.
“My brother just started running the shoreline to get over there, while my friend Alex and I hopped in our truck and tried to drive closer,” Hannah said. “I had the idea that maybe I could get him into a heated vehicle, but the roads didn’t go all the way around, so we parked as close as we could, and then got out and ran over there. We had extra clothes, a towel and a first aid kit.”
Although cellphone service in the area is spotty, Sherryl and Tim Quint were able to contact someone at the Jicarilla Department of Game and Fish, who immediately got the Jicarilla Fire and EMS services dispatched in Dulce.
By the time Hannah and Alexandria reached the rescue area, the fisherman had somehow managed to get close enough to shore, where he lay flat in the water, the lower portion of his body bogged down in mud, and where Nick was able to pull him out.
Hannah and Alexandria removed the fisherman’s wet clothing. “I took off my beanie, mittens and my jacket and put it on him.” The man’s brother, who had caught up, provided dry socks and pants for him, Hannah said.
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Jicarilla first responders arrived within minutes, parked as close as possible, and then cut through a fence and hiked with their equipment about 100 yards to reach the man, said the Jicarilla Game and Fish official who asked not to be identified.
The fisherman “was fully dressed for a day of fishing, not swimming,” said the official. He noted that the water in the 50-acre lake ranges from 15-30 feet deep and the water temperature was in the low 50s.
“Without a doubt, things could have been much more serious,” he said. Luckily, “the Quint family was there to aid in his recovery.”
As he was being pulled from the water, the fisherman “just kept saying ‘I’m exhausted, not cold,’ ” Hannah said. “But his skin and his fingers looked almost gray.” She added that EMS personnel indicated his body temperature had fallen into the low 90s, indicating he was likely hypothermic.
The man, identified only as a resident of the Silver City area, was taken to a hospital in Pagosa Springs, “where, as far as we know, he was warming up and in good shape,” Nick said.
“You know, I was a little bit in shock, too,” he said. “We’ve seen plenty of people go out on boats and float tubes like that without any complications at all, so this was very unexpected.”
Even after the drama, the Quint fishing party continued to pull 16-18-inch trout from the lake.