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Boater who died after Lake Winona mishap loved fishing, family members say

Union Leader Correspondent

May 07. 2013 8:02PM

CENTER HARBOR – When Spencer Hadlock got in his boat and went fishing on Lake Winona Sunday morning, he was pursuing his favorite hobby on a beautiful day in May, family members said.

A few hours later, he was fatally ill, having all but drowned in the water after accidentally falling overboard. He died Monday of his injuries, authorities said.

"He was doing what he loved to do," said Hadlock's daughter, Lisa Vincent of Campton. "It was a normal boat launch," Vincent said. "We don’t know what happened after that."

Hadlock, 67, was operating a 14-foot boat powered by a six-horsepower outboard motor on Sunday around 10:30 a.m. Witnesses told New Hampshire Marine Patrol investigators that he reached back toward the motor from a seated position and fell overboard.

A person on shore, Craig Lutz, saw him fall out of the boat and tread water for a short period of time and then go under, according to New England Cable News.

"He came by a few times and I happened to be looking at him when the rear end of his boat went down or he fell backwards, I don't know. He just went in the water and he was swimming there for a little while," Lutz said.

Lutz threw his phone to a friend and told him to dial 911 while he hopped in his canoe and paddled out to the middle of the lake. By the time he got there, Hadlock had stopped flailing and was floating in the water.

"I basically dragged him to shore and give him CPR for 10 to 15 minutes until the medic came up," Lutz told NECN.

Hadlock was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital and later transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, according to police. Marine Patrol officials said late Monday night that Hadlock had died.

Authorities said Hadlock was not wearing a life preserver when his boat overturned.

They were not sure whether he had a personal flotation device in his boat at the time.

By law, he was not required to be wearing a life jacket, as life jackets are only mandatory for those 12 and under.


He was required to have one in the boat with him.

Had he been wearing a life jacket, he may have survived, said Marine Patrol Sgt. Crystal McLain.

"In general, there’s a reason why we say life jackets save lives," McLain said. "The idea is it’s better to be wearing when the accident occurs, otherwise people won’t have the time or the ability to reach it."

With water temperatures in the 50s, it’s especially important early in the season to be wearing them, she said, as a person in the water may get hypothermia within minutes.

"We tell people to come up with a 'float plan' before they go out, tell someone where you are going, and be sure they are prepared. Don’t leave these things until the time you have an emergency, because that may be too late."

Hadlock's family was thankful to the unidentified man who tried to save his life. "We really want to thank him for trying," she said.

Hadlock was a retired machinist, Vincent said, whose love of fishing was well known to his friends. He had worked at local manufacturing plants and had many friends, she said.

"My dad was known and loved by a lot of people, and we all miss him very much," she said.

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