To the Editor:
Wednesday, Jan. 17, turned into a difficult, emotional day for us when we realized around 5 p.m. that our daughter Jolie, 13, had not returned from playing outdoors with her friend Julia. It soon became evident that something had happened to the two of them, and to Julia’s dad, Eli, who had taken them on a snowmobile ride on Long Pond.
By now, most local residents may already know that this story, though nerve-wracking, doesn’t end in heartbreak. The three missing people had gone through the ice, swam ashore, tried their best to stay warm and alert in the subfreezing weather and were eventually rescued about four hours later — chilled to the bone and hypothermic, but alive and not seriously injured.
The incident most likely would have had a disastrous ending if it hadn’t been for the exemplary dedication and professionalism of all involved: the various police departments, fire departments, wardens and paramedics; the search-and-rescue team; and the private citizens who helped comb the woods around Long Pond.
As Jolie’s parents, we are writing to say that we are so, so grateful to all for saving our daughter’s life, and those of the other two victims. What the emergency workers did doesn’t just take serious training and equipment. More importantly, it takes heart and courage. Together, these people form a phenomenal, life-saving resource for this community and for the millions of guests who are drawn to our beautiful island year after year.
We greatly commend Mount Desert Island’s emergency personnel for never wavering from the duties and responsibilities that they’ve selflessly taken on. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!
Rogier van Bakel