Father, son, pluck man from lake
Perhaps Norman Hoggatt was inspired by his hero Roy Rogers.
Or maybe it was his training with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Nevada National Guard.
Either way, Hoggatt and his son, Karl – who helped rescue a man from Washoe Lake – said they were just trying to help.
“Roy Rogers always goes out and saves the drowning guy,” said Hoggatt, the host of the television show that runs Roy Rogers’ movies.
“I just want to help people,” Hoggatt said. “Sometimes when you see people in trouble you just have to go out and help them.”
Hoggatt, a Carson City resident, and his 22-year-old son visiting from Vancouver, Canada, decided one July evening to take their new Polaris Jet Ski out for its first run.
“It was lucky we were there,” Hoggatt said. “It was just a spur-of-the- moment kind of thing.”
When they first got to the lake, Hoggatt and Karl saw a man about a mile into the lake with something that looked like a parachute attached to him.
“It was up in the sky and it was just going left to right, up and down,” Karl said.
While Karl was riding the Jet Ski they noticed that the man had been idle in the lake for quite a while, Hoggatt said.
They began to get suspicious, and Hoggatt – who is a 20-year member of the Nevada Army National Guard and was a deputy in Lyon County for 12 years – listened to his instincts and went to check out the situation.
Hoggatt and Karl found a man with his head above water, struggling to get his parachute untangled and make his way back to shore.
Karl jumped into the water to help Michael Epstein, a South Lake Tahoe resident who had been trying out a new sport – kiteboarding – at Washoe Lake.
Epstein described kiteboarding as a sport similar to wakeboarding, except with a kite instead of a boat.
“I was flying fine and then the wind just shut off on me,” Epstein said.
After struggling to deflate and roll up the parachute-like kite, the three men climbed on the Jet Ski and started a slow journey back to shore.
Epstein said it took them about an hour to reach land – and in that time the jet ski capsized, throwing the three men back into the lake.
The engine flooded with water and Hoggatt said he had a hard time getting it to start again.
They finally got it running and made it to shore at 6:30 p.m., an hour after they found Epstein.
Hoggatt said the Jet Ski, which he bought a week before the incident, has been having problems ever since.
Although Epstein said he probably could have made it back to shore – a one-mile swim – he was extremely grateful the Hoggatts found him.
Epstein hasn’t spoken to Hoggatt or Karl, but recently wrote them a two-page thank you letter and sent a letter to Hoggatt’s boss at the National Guard, explaining why Hoggatt was late for work that evening.
“They are the two most kind-hearted guys I’ve ever met,” Epstein said. “The world should have more people like them.”
Hoggatt said Epstein hugged them and offered them money for being rescued, but Hoggatt and Karl refused.
“You do what you can,” Hoggatt said. “You can’t save the world, but once in a while you can help somebody.”