A teenager from Kingston, an Eagle Scout who dreamed of becoming a firefighter, drowned in the waters off Plymouth Harbor early this morning after the 15-foot recreational boat he was in took on water and sank.
David Hanson, 19, was unconscious when the crew on a Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter spotted him floating in the harbor around 2:30 a.m. today. Hanson was pulled from the water and rushed to Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, where he was pronounced dead.
Hanson and the boat's owner, 20-year-old Wayne Carlson, both were wearing life jackets, but lacked experience boating on the ocean at night, according to Hanson's father, Keith Hanson.
“They shouldn’t have been out there in the boat,” the father said in a telephone interview today. “It was lack of judgment, and two inexperienced guys who shouldn’t have been out there. It’s like playing Russian roulette.”
He said he spoke with Carlson at the hospital early this morning and Carlson told him the two had not been drinking or doing anything otherwise illegal, but that they exercised poor judgment in taking the boat out at dark.
Keith Hanson said his family is grieving for an adventurous teenager who was told countless times that he should not have been out on the boat at that time, but who couldn’t turn down an adventure with a close friend.
“They were good friends that did a lot together,” the father said. “It’s hard not to tell [a teenager] not to do certain things.”
According to Keith Hanson, the Coast Guard and Plymouth Police, the two long-time friends boarded the boat, planning to motor from Kingston Bay into Plymouth Harbor, Tuesday night.
Around 11:22 p.m., Carlson made a mayday call to the Coast Guard saying the boat was taking on water about two miles east of Plymouth Harbor. A search by the Coast Guard and the Plymouth harbormaster began, and it gained a focus when a friend of the two men outlined their travel plans, officials said.
By 2 a.m., a Coast Guard boat found Carlson clinging to the buoy in the harbor. The Jayhawk spotted Hanson about a half hour later.
Both men were wearing life jackets, but both the air and water temperature were cold. The air temperature was 46 degrees with winds of about 5 miles per hour, and the water temperature was 57 degrees.
Hanson’s father said Carlson told him that he was able to grab a buoy and that Hanson was alongside him, but at one point he seemed to be swallowing water and showed symptoms of hypothermia.
“He just kind of slipped away,” the father said. “We’re at a loss for words.”
Hanson was about to graduate from Massasoit Community College, and was on the civil service list to become a Kingston firefighter, his father said. An emergency medical technician, Hanson drove an ambulance for Exodus Mountain Inc. in Brockton, and was preparing to take the paramedic exam. He also worked part-time as a security guard at the Hanover Mall.
Recently, Hanson returned from a relief mission in Haiti with his church, St. Joseph’s Parish in Kingston.
Hanson was an Eagle Scout, and his project was to help in the restoration of the Surprise Hose House in Kingston, which was done to celebrate the department's history. He was also a member of the Kingston Fire Venture Crew 479, a group of students interested in learning about the firefighting.
Retired Fire Chief David McKee, who worked with Hanson on his Eagle Scout project, said he would always see the teenager at the fire station.
He worked in the community, too: Each year, Hanson and a friend would hang American flags on telephone poles throughout town for the summer months, and then remove them in the fall. McKee was with Hanson only weeks ago preparing the flags, and the teenager told him he wanted to return to Haiti.
“He had a desire to become a firefighter, and he had a passion for his country and his community,” McKee said. “He was a throwback to a different age when a young man learned to serve their country and their community, and you don’t see that everyday.”
McKee knows the entire Hanson family and attributed David Hanson's dedication to his hometown to his parents -- Keith Hanson is a Marshfield police officer and his mother is a nurse.
“It’s his family and his upbringing that made him into the young man that he was,” McKee said. “It’s just a tragic, tragic loss. You just don’t expect something like this, somebody so young and such a good kid.”
Hanson graduated in 2007 from Silver Lake High School. Recently, he became interested in boating, and planned to take a boater’s safety course and a scuba diving program, his father said.
“He was an adventurous kid, but he was all clean fun,” Keith Hanson said of his son. “He was doing all the right things.”
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