Four men from West Islip on Wednesday were awarded two of boating’s highest honors for rescuing five people from a sinking vessel off the South Shore in August.
William Deak, 46, and his sons Jason Deak, 21, and Justin Deak, 24, along with family friend Michael Laduca, 24, were given the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Award of Commendation and the State Parks’ Recreational Boating Lifesaving Award.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the men should be commended for their heroism on Aug. 9 in the Great South Bay.
“In the face of danger, the Deak family and Mr. Laduca showed tremendous courage in risking their lives to protect others,” Cuomo said in a statement. “It is this type of selflessness and bravery that embodies the spirit of New York and the qualities for which we stand.”
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey called the foursome quick and selfless.
“Thanks to these heroes this was a happy ending but if they were not nearby and close enough to see this emergency, this could have instead led to a very tragic ending,” Harvey said.
William Deak was heading toward Bay Shore Marina with his sons and Laduca when they noticed something in the water and decided to investigate.
As they drew closer, they spotted a family in distress. Juan Contreras, 33, of Bellport, had been operating an 18-foot Stingray when the engine stalled about 5:30 p.m., police said.
Suddenly, Contreras, his two young daughters, his mother and sister were in the water, clinging to the partially submerged boat, and waving their arms.
“We yelled, ‘Help! Help!’ ” Juan’s sister, Guadalupe Contreras, 47, of Bay Shore, said the next day, as she recalled the drama, noting all five family members wore life jackets.
William Deak called police as his sons, who are West Islip firefighters, jumped in the water without hesitation, pulling everyone to safety.