Man's generosity its own reward when skiers respond to his calls for help
Appleton — George Stevenson, 83, is in stable condition at Pen Bay Medical Center after the tractor he was driving fell through the ice on his pond off of Appleton Ridge Road Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 17.
Appleton Fire Chief David Stone suggested that Stevenson was so lucky, “he might want to go buy a lottery ticket.” Stone arrived at the scene to find that Dora Lievow of Camden and Tree Roth of Union had gotten Stevenson part-way into an aluminum boat they had found on shore and pushed out on the ice to help him.
Stone said he was able to jump into the boat to help the women finish getting Stevenson into it, and then get the boat back to shore. Stevenson was suffering from hypothermia, he said.
Lievow and Roth had been cross-country skiing on Stevenson’s land, where they had been before, though they had never met him. After about 10 minutes, Roth said, she began to hear a sound that she could not identify, but which didn’t sound “natural,” she said.
The pair continued skiing a little while longer, then decided to go investigate the sound. It took them another seven or eight minutes to get to the pond, Lievow said, a distance of a quarter-mile or so. Both women remembered seeing a hunter-orange hat on someone’s head from a distance and thinking at first that it might be a snowmobiler.
When they realized that Stevenson had fallen through the ice, they took off their skis and ran down to the pond, Lievow said, where they could see the tractor submerged 10 feet from the edge of the pond. Stevenson had managed to climb into the bucket of the tractor and was calling for help.
“He was totally coherent. He had some fortitude,” Lievow said.
He gave his name and address to Roth, who called 9-1-1.
But the women did not leave it at that. Seeing an aluminum boat turned upside down by the pond, they pushed it out on the ice, got in, and tried to pull Stevenson into it. They had to stand on the tractor in order to get a purchase on the freezing man’s body, because he was too cold to move on his own.
It was then that Stone arrived to help.
Once he was out of the water, the women got blankets from Stevenson’s house, as well as his medications and other items he needed for the hospital. He was transported by Union Ambulance.
Roth said she put her hands on his face to warm him, and was holding him close to her body. She said she had often wondered about the generous landowner who allowed people to ski on his property.
“I said, ‘Oh, George, you are the kindest, sweetest man, and what an amazing way to meet you.’ “
Lievow also expressed appreciation of Stevenson’s allowing recreational use of his property.
“Had we not been there, that guy would have died. … He was just the kind of guy who should have been rescued,” she said.
Stone confirmed that without Roth and Lievow’s help, Stevenson “would have been in serious trouble.”
Lievow went with Stevenson in the ambulance and visited him after he was admitted to the hospital. He had expected to die, he told her, and thought it was ironic, because he had spent a lot of his life as a sailor.
“He was just amazingly okay, and full of a twinkle,” Lievow said.
Stone said the tractor was pulled from the pond Tuesday afternoon.
Sarah E. Reynolds is a reporter for the Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, hike and play word games.
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