Romney helps rescue family from Lake Winnipesaukee

By STEPHEN FROTHINGHAM

Associated Press


WOLFEBORO, N.H. - Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney interrupted a quiet vacation to help rescue six people and a dog from a sinking boat in Lake Winnipesaukee over the weekend.

No one was hurt when the 21-foot vintage wooden speedboat took on water and quickly sank in about 100 feet of water Saturday night. But the passengers found themselves floating in near darkness, with powerboats passing nearby.

Romney's sons Josh, 27, and Craig, 22, were on the beach in front of their family vacation home when they heard screams coming from the lake.

"Initially we thought that people were just making noise, like they do," Josh Romney said yesterday. The two soon realized the screamers were in distress and Craig spotted people in the water, about 300 yards from shore.

The brothers jumped into a three-passenger personal watercraft, and the governor who was walking nearby, took another.

"We just raced out there," Craig Romney said.

With help from a neighbor in a powerboat, the Romneys shuttled the six to shore. Josh Romney took the dog, a black Scotty named McKenzie, on his lap.

"(The dog) was what they were most concerned about," Josh Romney said.

The Romneys met with reporters on yesterday at a lakeside park a few yards from their house.

The boat is owned by Robert Morrissey, 67, of Wolfeboro. The passengers included his wife, Melinda, their two children and two of their children's friends.

"I think we pulled the governor in the drink there for a second because it took a little bit of maneuvering to get out," Robert Morrissey told WBZ-TV.

Melinda Morrissey said Romney was "a wonderful sport through it all - very gracious."

The passengers said the boat sank 90 seconds after a problem was noticed, the governor said. The group put on life jackets but didn't have time to buckle them before the boat sank, he said.

After the group dried off at his house, he gave the six a ride home in his 29-foot powerboat.

"When we got back I introduced myself. They said, 'Yeah, we know who you are," he said. "I'm just glad we were in the right place at the right time."

Romney said the lake is safe because of all the people on shore who help out in emergencies.

About three boats helped in the rescue, said Sgt. Eric Robertson of the New Hampshire Marine Patrol.

"It's the rules of the high seas - you help out who you can because you're on your own when you're in the water," Robertson said.

Romney bought the lake house four or five years ago, after selling a vacation house on Cape Cod. The governor said he tired of the weekend traffic on the Cape. The family will vacation in Wolfeboro through next weekend.