When 18-year-old Sean Craig drowned in the Great Sacandaga Lake last summer, the tragedy spurred Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino to publicly speak out for the return of a Fulton County dive team.
A year later, Giardino says bringing back the dive team isn’t realistic with current staffing and budgetary restrictions.
However, fundraising efforts by Craig’s family have resulted in the purchase of new sonar equipment that Fulton County will use in conjunction with existing dive teams from neighboring municipalities and the state police that already respond to water emergencies.
It’s not the ideal situation for Giardino, but it makes the most sense.
“We’d rather work jointly with the other counties,” Giardino said.
“It’s good for all of us to share resources because we all have limited and tight budgets,” Giardino said. “It’s kind of better to do the regional approach right now.”
The sonar equipment that was purchased with a $30,000 donation made by the Sean Craig Memorial Fund is a key addition to rescue and recovery efforts.
Giardino said that, unfortunately once a person hasn’t been rescued from being underwater within 15 to 20 minutes, the mission is no longer a rescue, but a recovery. Even in that case, time matters — sparing loved ones from a tortuous waiting period.
The Craig family experienced such a horrible situation last summer when Sean’s body wasn’t recovered until the next day. They know firsthand of the sonar equipment’s value.
“It was a pretty important tool for them to have to locate a body or anything else in case of an emergency,” said Justin Craig, Sean’s brother.
The family’s fundraising work will make a difference.
We think it’s also important to recognize the joint effort by the Fulton, Saratoga, Warren and Montgomery county sheriff departments, along with the Amsterdam police and fire department dive team to work together to provide emergency response coverage on the Sacandaga. These units held a joint training session on the lake in May to improve their effectiveness as a team.
It’s not always easy to put egos aside and let safety come first.