Department of Parks
Jenny Wiley Lifeguards Save Boater
A Floyd County man owes his life to two quick-thinking and gutsy lifeguards at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg.
Thomas Perkins of Martin was fishing May 29 on his 16-foot johnboat in an inlet of Dewey Lake when fire broke out. The flames forced him out of the boat. Perkins doesn’t swim, so he clung to the side of the burning craft and yelled for help.
Fortunately for Perkins, Jenny Wiley’s community pool is situated near the inlet. Pool guests saw the flames and heard the man yelling. They alerted lifeguards Monica Newsome and Ashley Akers.
“As soon as it happened, we got everybody out of the pool,” Monica recalled later. “I ran down to the lake, while Ashley called 9-1-1.”
The two of them then swam out to the boat and took Perkins safely back to shore.
“The whole time we were thinking, ‘what if that boat explodes?’” Monica said.
The danger was real. Perkins told them the johnboat was loaded with two cans of gasoline. A ruptured fuel line in the boat motor apparently caused the fire.
Monica and Ashley treated the boater for minor burns until emergency help arrived.
Monica said she had no regrets about putting herself in harm’s way.
“I’m really glad we saved that man. If I had it to do over, I would have done the same thing,” she said.
Park Manager Scott Ringham said he is proud of the young women.
He noted that luck was a factor in the rescue, since the boat happened to be in that particular inlet on the 1,150-acre lake.
“If it were to have happened anywhere else on the lake, I don’t know what he would have done,” Ringham said.
“I commend Monica and Ashley for exhibiting an unbridled spirit of bravery,” said Parks Commissioner George Ward. “Their actions should serve as an example for all Parks employees.”
This is the second season as Jenny Wiley lifeguards for both Monica, 22, and Ashley, 19. Both are students at Big Sandy Community and Technology College.