Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

December 19, 2013

Randy Simons
Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868

Recreational Boating Life Saving Awards Presented to Good Samaritan

Ulster Park resident receives awards for October rescue

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) announced the presentation of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators' (NASBLA) Award of Commendation and State Parks' Recreational Boating Life Saving Award to Gerald Gust of Ulster Park. The awards were presented in recognition of a rescue of two boaters from the Rondout Creek in Ulster County that Mr. Gust made on October 27.

Mr. Gust, 57, a boat enthusiast who loves the water, was travelling along Route 213 when he rolled down the window of his car for a breath of fresh air and heard the sound of a boat colliding with a buoy in the water. Looking toward the sound, he saw an overturned boat with its two occupants now in the water and struggling to stay afloat without the aid of life jackets. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Mr. Gust immediately pulled over and began shouting encouragement to the two men while looking for a way to assist them.

Mr. Gust soon noticed a small boat tied to a nearby pier which fortunately had a key in the ignition. After quickly jumping into the boat, he made his way to the two victims and was able to pull both men aboard - then transported them to a dock where an ambulance waited to take both men to a nearby hospital for treatment.

"There is no doubt that the quick actions of Mr. Gust stopped a bad situation from getting worse and saved two lives," said Ulster County Sheriff Paul J. VanBlarcum. "As a member of the Ulster County Sheriff's water rescue team for 28 years, I know how long it takes to get on a scene, set up and in the water. I firmly believe that the situation would not have had the outcome it did had it not been for Mr. Gust."

"I commend Gerald Gust for swiftly coming to the aid of two boaters in distress on the Rondout Creek," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "The incident illustrates that things can and do unexpectedly go wrong on the water. The best way for boaters to avoid a tragedy is to be prepared - and always wear a life jacket."

The NASBLA Award of Commendation is given in recognition of persons who have exhibited heroism and faced risks to their own lives in saving another person involved in a recreation boating incident. Since its inception in 2008, it has been awarded to seven New Yorkers.

The New York State Parks' Marine Service Bureau gives the Recreational Boating Life Saving Award in recognition of the ultimate boating Good Samaritan who comes to the aid another boater in life-threatening distress and successfully rescues them.

The Office of Parks and Recreation and the United States Coast Guard strongly recommend the wearing of life jackets, especially now and throughout the winter when cold water temperatures can quickly kill. It is also recommended that all boaters properly equip and carry essential safety gear, signaling devices and whistles; inform others with a general destination and when to expect a return; take a boating safety course; and always refrain from mixing alcohol with boating. Boaters are reminded that state law requires a life jacket to be worn on any watercraft less than 21-feet in length from November 1 to May 1.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Marine Services Bureau oversees the state's safe boating programs, including boating safety education classes that help nearly 20,000 people annually become safer boaters. For more information about boating safety and marine recreation, please visit