Teen, grandfather rescued by text messages

November 26, 2010 8:33:07 PM PST
A 17-year-old boy and his grandfather were rescued from the icy marsh in Dutchess County after their canoe overturned, thanks to his text messages.

"It started as a beautiful day," Chris Hoffman said.

At around 3 p.m. Wednesday in Dutchess County, in a place called Tivoli Bays, 17-year-old Tom Mulvaney and his 73-year-old grandfather were canoeing through a muddy marsh to go duck hunting.

The ducks never came in and nightfall began to arrive.

"Wouldn't you believe it, the canoe flips over and that's when it started, that was the beginning," Hoffman said.

"It was cold, it was cold enough to take your breath away, it was bad," Mulvaney said.

The temperature outside was in the 30's on Wednesday night, but the water was much colder.

The water in their canoe had already turned to ice.

They tried to get back in the canoe but that only made things worse.

"Sure enough, wouldn't you believe it, it goes over again. This time we're numb, I'm numb," Hoffman said.

"All the gear was in the boat when it flipped over, and then it floated away," Mulvaney said.

They knew they were in a bad situation, and so they checked their phones, only to realize the water had made them useless.

That was until Tom realized he could somehow still send text messages.

His first one was a group message, which his mother received saying 911 and his location.

Tom says he sent around 30 to 40 text messages.

"It's pretty amazing. I never would have found my son or my dad, I just never would have," Corie Mulvaney, Tom's mother said.

As Tom's fingers grew more and more numb, some of the messages grew fuzzier, but his mom and rescue crews literally texted their way through the marsh to find them.

"I couldn't see them, couldn't hear them, just knew they were there through the texts," Corie Mulvaney said.

Tom and his grandfather say they feel lucky to be alive after more than 5 hours out in what easily could have been considered a frozen zone.

"I said to him, 'we're going to be OK, we're going to get out of this, we're going to make it'," Hoffman said.

Thanks to the beauty of technology, they did!

Do you have something to add to this story? Click here to contact Eyewitness News.