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Diabetic boater saved in Huntington Bay

Town of Huntington Bay Constables, Tim Lutz, left,

Town of Huntington Bay Constables, Tim Lutz, left, and Fred Uvena, right, stand on a marine unit floating inside Huntington harbor. Quick action by these two Huntington Bay Constables helped save the life of a boater who had gone into diabetic shock in Huntington Harbor. (Aug. 6, 2012) Credit: Steve Pfost

An astute and quick-thinking Huntington bay constable and his colleague are being credited with saving the life of a boater who had gone into diabetic shock in Huntington Harbor.

Just before 5:30 p.m. Sunday, bay constables Fred Uvena and Tim Lutz responded to a call described as a suspected boating while intoxicated crash, after a 47-foot Catalina sailboat collided with an anchored vessel in Huntington Harbor.

When Uvena boarded the boat, he found the 54-year-old operator disoriented and combative. But after quickly surveying the area and finding no liquor bottles or beer cans, he determined the man was not drunk.

"Once I got near him, I realized he had no odor of alcohol, and it appeared it was a medical emergency," said Uvena, 59, a 20-year bay constable and former Newsday truck driver. "He had all the symptoms of diabetic shock, which are the same symptoms of being intoxicated: combative, slurred speech."

To assist and secure the boater, Uvena placed his life jacket on him and began treatment. Uvena said that, when the man lost consciousness, he secured an airway and requested an oxygen kit from Lutz, 36, a 12-year bay constable who had been piloting the patrol boat.

A Suffolk County Police Department marine bureau officer, Charles Marchiello, boarded the vessel with Lutz and assisted Uvena in administering oxygen while an ambulance was called. Dave Willis of Willis Marine boarded the boat and piloted it to the pickup point near the Halesite Firehouse, where a Halesite Fire Department ambulance picked up the boater and transported him to Huntington Hospital. They were also assisted on shore by bay constable Stephen Taylor.

A woman who answered the phone at the boater's home declined to comment. Newsday is withholding his name to protect his medical privacy.

Lutz said the intense training the town requires of bay constables -- including first-aid and emergency lifesaving instruction -- prepares them for just about any scenario.

"We get trained so much that when something happens we just kick into gear," Lutz said.

About an hour after the incident, Uvena said, the boater was conscious, oriented and resting comfortably.

"All of us in town government are especially proud of how our harbormaster's office continues to keep our waters safe and help boaters in need," Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone said.

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