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William Hainline can’t swim.
So when he climbed into a small boat Sunday to put a fountain in his pond without wearing a life jacket, even he admits it wasn’t the brightest thing he has ever done.
“I just sink like a rock, so not having a life jacket on is the stupidest thing a person can do,” Hainline said Monday morning. “If my neighbors hadn’t been there, I would have been a goner just due to my own stupidity.”
His neighbors are Darren Willard and his sons Casey, 14, and Colton, 11. They watched from the bank of Hainline’s pond near Alton Station Road as he attempted to install a fountain. Hainline said he had a concrete block attached to the fountain to anchor it, but when he tossed the block overboard, he soon followed suit.
“When I threw the block over, it flipped the boat because I lost my center of gravity,” he said, adding that the half-acre pond is about 12 feet deep.
Hainline said he went under and was able to paddle his way back to the surface, but cracked his head on the overturned boat. But Darren and Casey Willard arrived a short time later and pulled him and his boat to safety.
“Darren got to me first,” Hainline said. “He’s a big guy. He put one arm around me and one on the boat and got me out.”
Hainline said Casey helped his father bring the boat ashore, while younger brother Colton comforted Hainline’s wife. Hainline said he’s learned a lesson, and hopes others do, too.
“Don’t be stupid,” he said. “Wear a life jacket if you don’t swim well because it doesn’t take much water to drown.”
Hainline added that it’s not likely that he’ll be back in a boat anytime soon.
“I gave Darren the boat,” he said. “I told him to take the [darn] thing. He said, ‘OK, I’ll take it and you can’t borrow it.’”
E-mail Ben Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.