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Let's Go Fishing captain rescues stranded boaters

Siblings Jeff Mathews and Suzie Mathews-Dillon are towed behind the Let's Go Fishing pontoon. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Let's Go Fishing captain Gene Reuter poses for a picture with his sister, Claire Mathews, on a pleasure cruise. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

As a volunteer pontoon captain for the Let's Go Fishing organization, Gene Reuter gets to meet all kinds of people.

"It's a rewarding experience, let alone sometimes a rescue mission," he said.

That's right, a rescue mission.

After taking a special needs group from Farmington out on the water last Thursday afternoon, Reuter was getting ready to pull the pontoon into the dock at the Miss Croix marina in Prescott when he saw a little motorboat with two people in it, paddling.

He figured they could use some help, so he and his assistant, Susan Kullman, drove out toward the stranded boat.

"I just wanted to get them to safety," he said.

As they got closer, they heard one of the people yell from the boat, "Hey, Uncle Gene!"

Reuter soon recognized the boaters as his niece and nephew, Suzie Mathews-Dillon and Jeff Mathews. The siblings had launched the boat from Treasure Island and made it up to Prescott when their motor went out.

They got the boats tied together and Reuter towed his niece and nephew to the public boat launch in Prescott. Once he got them there, he took the pontoon back to its dock and secured it, then drove back to the boat launch. The motor still wouldn't run, so Reuter drove his niece back to Treasure Island to get her car and boat trailer.

It was a totally unexpected encounter, Reuter said. And not only did he happen to rescue his own family, but just one week earlier he had a chance encounter with his sister, Suzie's and Jeff's mother. Claire Mathews had been one of his passengers on another Let's Go Fishing cruise with the Hastings Senior Center.