Jim Moir of Gorham, Maine and a group of his friends had thoroughly enjoyed their recent trip to Rangeley, where they spent five days and four nights at Bald Mountain Camps.

They were just getting ready to leave, on May 25th, when he had one of the biggest fears of his life. He and his buddy Tim Ludden from South Portland were the last ones to be leaving and so they split up. Tim had headed out with the truck and trailer to Haines landing where he was to meet Jim who was to bring the boat.

Jim Moir

Jim, admittedly without thinking, probably in a rush as one always is when one is headed home from vacation, untied the boat before stepping onto it. At that point, the boat started to drift away. Here he was with one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat and so wound up falling straight in.

“There was about 10’ of water there and the temperature was probably about 50 degrees. I went right to the bottom because I was fully dressed. It was a cold, windy day and I had a heavy jacket on along with a sweatshirt and a flannel shirt, T-shirt and jeans, and some fairly heavy sneakers. And so, I went right straight to the bottom.”

“And then it was difficult to swim back up to the surface because I had so much on for clothing that I could barely swim, but it seemed like it took me forever to get back to the surface. But I did. I, did finally get back to the surface and I was able to grab onto the dock and generally in the same area that I had fallen off.”

Being the tail end of mud season, only three of the rental camps were occupied.


“So basically, there was nobody in any of the cottages. Fortunately, there was a person that had just put their boat in.”

They had just finished launching their boat and were leaving the dock at the time Jim fell in. It was a gentleman in his seventies by the name of Art Shea, and he was visiting from Brooks, Maine. He quickly responded.

“He ran over and held on to my jacket so I wouldn’t go down again. I was basically immobile, my arms had stiffened up, and so I had no chance of going up onto the dock, which was probably a foot to 16 inches above the water level.”

Jim is 79 years old and weighs almost 200lbs. Combined with the amount of wet clothing, he was seriously being weighed down.

“He tried once to pull me, and he made absolutely no headway at all. He lifted up my body just a couple of inches.”

So, Art started yelling for help.


Ron Birch- Lifesaver!

Fortunately, Ron Birch, who works at Bald Mountain Camps was within earshot.

He had been delivering stacks of firewood to the camps in preparation for the big Memorial Day weekend.

“This Ron Birch heard the hollering for help, and he came running. And he’s a big man, fairly tall and very strong, and very fit. And between him and this Art Shea, they were able to pull me up onto the dock. Had this Ron Birch not been within hearing distance or had no one else come, there’s no doubt in my mind that there was no way for me to get out of the water.”

Jim explained how their position on the dock did not allow Art to pull him along the entire length of the dock as he just couldn’t have mustered the strength, and Jim was unable to help at all.

“I was immobile. I couldn’t use my legs. I couldn’t use my arms, my arms in the position that they were in when I was hanging on to the dock. And I actually give credit to both of those people for saving my life.”

He remembers Ron saying to him, ‘We are going to get you out of the water. We may hurt you doing it, but we are going to get you out.”


Jim is still pretty sore from the incident but more than that he is extremely grateful. He has since sent letters of thanks and tokens of his appreciation to these two people who were there in his time of need.

I related to Jim that I know Ron because I work with his wife Rebecca and daughter Avryn, but also because I used to serve with him years ago on Rangeley Fire & Rescue, so I am not surprised to hear he was both heroic and strong, but I sure was happy to hear he was there.

Jim and Tim have been taking an annual fishing trip every spring for decades and this just happened to be their 50th trip. What a trip to remember!

Of course, after I wished him well, I had to ask, ‘So how was the fishing?’

He laughed and responded, “The fishing was good, some of the best we’ve ever had.”

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