Florida vacationer and dog rescued from Howard Lake
By ANDREA VARGO
"I saw something going around in the middle of the lake," said Lowell Schrupp of Howard Lake.
It was a lucky thing for Ralph Lewis of Punta Gorda, Fla. that Schrupp noticed the unusual occurrence Tuesday morning.
At first Schrupp thought it was a personal watercraft, but he finally made the object out to be a small boat.
Then he saw something waving in the air. It looked like a paddle, he said.
"I ran inside the liquor store and tried to call 911," he said, "but the line was busy. I ran into the city office and had Dorothy Novak call."
Schrupp and Melmer Lahr took off in separate cars and tried to find someone home on the lake who had a boat.
They quickly found a pontoon at the home of LeRoy Schauer, and the three men raced to the middle of the lake.
The empty boat was still circling, and, Lewis and his small terrier, were just barely afloat in the water, said Schrupp.
"Lewis was going under and sputtering," he said.
"He is a big man, and we were having a tough time getting him over the side of the pontoon," said Schrupp.
"I hope we didn't hurt him, but we were pulling for all we were worth," he said.
The terrier had a harness on and was easily plucked from the water, no worse for the experience.
The three were then joined by members of the Howard Lake Fire Department, who towed Lewis' small boat to shore.
Said Lewis, "The dog likes to ride up front and lean over to bite at the waves. He falls in a couple of times a day.
"My wife is usually with me, and the boat is easier to balance. This time I leaned over to grab the dog, and in I went."
Lewis was not wearing a life jacket, and admitted he wasn't using the kill switch.
He refused to see a doctor or even take a jacket to keep off the chill wind blowing from the lake.
Schrupp said Lewis was so weak when they pulled him on board the pontoon, he couldn't even hold onto their arms to help.
Schrupp, Lahr, and Schauer are truly hometown heroes.
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