- Associated Press - Sunday, May 18, 2014

EFFORT, Pa. (AP) - Lifelong fisherman Edward Bonser said he never considered what would happen if he was thrown from his boat.

But after it happened to him, nearly killing him on Lake Wallenpaupack, the retired machinist resolved to come up with a solution.

After two years of development, Edward and Mercedes Bonser are marketing The Rescue Step, a sturdy, reliable ladder that attaches to a boat.

“The combination of a life jacket and one of these, we can save hundreds of lives,” Edward Bonser said.

Bonser said most fishermen think they can pull themselves into a boat if they go overboard. He thought the same thing until he went overboard at Lake Wallenpaupack in March 2012.

He struggled to pull himself into the boat by any means possible, but with no success. Bonser spent more than 10 minutes in nearly freezing water.

“I tied my shirt to the loop, so at least my wife would have something to bury,” said Bonser, who was rescued by another fisherman.

Bonser was determined to find a solution if he ever fell out again, but found nothing available.

The retired machinist from General Electric would not be deterred. He set off to work on a prototype, made of wood, that was the beginning of The Rescue Step.

One day, he asked a fishing buddy if he knew any manufacturers. That led him to a Scranton-based firm that makes the product.

Feedback, so far, has been good. It’s been tested by local water-rescue crew Northeast Search and Rescue and sold at dealerships. Bonser is working with boat manufacturers who want to make the step an option on new boats.

The device, which is selling for $169.99, is proven to work for people of all sizes.

Bonser admits many prospective buyers are still like him, before he fell into the water.

“You think you can bring yourself up, but you can’t,” Bonser said. “When you’re in 40-degree water, fully-clothed, the whole situation changes tremendously.”


Information from: Pocono Record, https://www.poconorecord.com/

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