Naples couple honored for heroism

Ed and Roberta Sorenson

Ed and Roberta Sorenson

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

NAPLES — He never hesitated. In fact, he acted so fast he didn’t even take time to put on his shoes or shirt or life jacket.

When 79-year-old Edward Sorenson heard the cries for help coming from the darkness out somewhere on Brandy Pond, his only thought was saving their lives. For that reason, and for his wife’s quick thinking in calling 911, Ed and Roberta Sorenson were selected for this year’s Civilian Valor Award by the Maine Sheriff’s Association.

“Quite frankly, it happened so quickly he just acted instinctively to go out there and help,” said Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce, who nominated the Sorensons for the award, which is voted on by a number of sheriffs in Maine. “For Mr. Sorenson, it was all in a day’s work.”

Joyce accepted the award at the association’s March 19 banquet on behalf of the Sorensons, who are summer residents of Naples and were unable to attend from their home in Pompano Beach, Fla.

The criteria for the valor award is straightforward, Joyce said. It is given to someone who “puts their own life in danger to help somebody else out.”

Ed was relaxing in his shorts, watching TV around 9 p.m. Sept. 2, inside his Cobby Road cottage, when he heard male voices yelling for help. They sounded like they were coming from the middle of Brandy Pond, but he couldn’t see anything through the darkness. He became especially alarmed when he heard them saying they couldn’t hold on any longer.

While he raced for his 12-foot aluminum rowboat, Roberta ran to the phone to call 911.

“He launched the rowboat in the direction of the voices, going by audio only,” Joyce said. After rowing several hundred feet from shore, Sorenson reached the two young men. Their canoe had overturned; one was wearing a life jacket and one was not.

“The man without the life vest was clinging onto the other, but their weight was too much for the one vest, and they were getting very tired,” Joyce said. The one without the vest came very close to drowning. “Somehow, he was able to pull them in the boat. He’s 79 years old.”

Sorenson then rowed back to shore with the two men, who were from Ohio. By that time rescue workers had arrived and took over, thanks to Roberta. “Obviously his quick and decisive action saved at least one individual from drowning,” Joyce said. “They truly served their community on Tuesday evening by becoming involved.”

Joyce said he plans to present the award in person to the Sorensons when they come up for the summer, either at the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Association’s banquet in May or at a Naples Selectmen meeting.

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