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COAST GUARD Valley man recalls deadly accident



Published: Sun, June 10, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



His sense of duty brought him back to the water.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y.-- Michael Moss will never forget the two men who died in March after spending four hours in the frigid waters of Lake Ontario. But he is taking steps to move past the accident that claimed their lives -- and nearly his.

Moss, 22, of Canfield, returned to duty in late May as a boarding officer and boat engineer aboard a Coast Guard vessel on Lake Ontario. He is stationed at the Coast Guard Station Niagara in western New York.

It's been awhile: It was the first time Moss had been on the water since the night of March 23, when he was one of four crew members aboard a 22-foot Coast Guard vessel that capsized after it was swamped by a 4-foot wave.

The crew spent four hours in Lake Ontario waiting to be rescued. Although each crew member was wearing a dry suit designed to protect against hypothermia, their body temperatures still dropped considerably in the 32-degree water.

Boatswainmate Second Class Scott J. Chism, 25, and Seaman Chris Ferreby, 23, both drowned before rescue crews responded. An autopsy determined hypothermia contributed to their deaths.

Moss and fellow Petty Officer Third Class William Simpson, 18, were pulled from the water by firefighters and survived.

Moss said that after the accident he thought about never going back on the water. However, he said his sense of duty eventually overcame his fears.

"It was kind of holding me back," Moss said. "You have to sit back and say, 'I've got a job to do.'"

Back to work: He now spends between four and five hours each day for two consecutive days on patrol on the lake. Moss then takes two days off before going back on patrol. He was on the same schedule before the accident.

Yet Moss said "it's harder to get out there" than it was before the accident.

Moss also said that accident has given him a better appreciation for his life and the time he spends with his friends.

"I lost my partners who I did everything with," he said, noting he, Chism and Ferreby each joined the Coast Guard at the same time and were good friends.

Moss joined the Coast Guard in 1998. He is a 1997 graduate of Canfield High School, and his parents still live in Canfield.

In memory of his friends, Moss got a tattoo on his left shoulder that reads, "You're always on our minds and through God's grace for you I shine." The names of Chism and Ferreby follow the inscription in the tattoo.

"I can look down at that and see them," Moss said. "I'll never forget them."

hill@vindy.com




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