By Marjorie Nesin
---- — As the sun set over Babson Reservoir Saturday night, two Rockport boys who had ventured out for a mountain bike ride in the winding Dogtown trails hours earlier found themselves soaked and stranded, surrounded by water and prickly bramble bush.
After attempting a swim back to the familiar path they had lost track of, 13-year-old Eli Bulba dialed 911, while his 14-year-old friend, Peter Derosa, sat next to him.
“They described their location pretty well, but the problem was accessibility. You could only access them by a two-hour hike in through the woods,” Derosa’s dad, Christopher Derosa, said Monday.
The pair had been following a path using a mapping device, when suddenly the trail ended. They made their way to a clearing, then climbed through some brush, and still found no route out of the woods. They swam to no avail then, wet from head to toe, then made the call that allowed police and firefighters to rescue them from a dark night in the woods.
“My son had a cellphone, but like any other 14-year-old, almost 15, he didn’t use it to call me,” the elder Derosa said Monday.
Derosa called to check in on his son soon after the kids called police. He counted on the officers to find the boys, then picked them up at the police station
Derosa expressed his gratitude toward police and firefighters who had responded immediately, plotted ideas for rescuing the kids, then climbed through bramble so thick that it ripped their uniforms, working their way toward the kids then leading them back out of the woods to safety.
“I saw their uniforms, and they were all stitches exposed,” Derosa said. “I appreciated them very much. They took it like a serious rescue operation — and I’m thankful that they did.”
Police had an eye on the boys not long after receiving the emergency call, but the scraggly brush and lack of paths heightened the difficulty of the rescue. Officer Mark Foote kept an eye on the boys from a perch on the train tracks.
Firefighters attempted to deploy a boat to the spot where emergency personnel could see the boys sitting across the water, but found the water was too shallow.
Using flashlights, Fire Capt. Tom LoGrande, Police Officer Brian Aiello, and firefighters Mike Mitchell and John McCarthy entered the woods, picking their way through several paths over the course of two hours.
“The woods were thick and it was difficult to reach the boys,” Aiello wrote in the police report.
But, the mixed group of emergency personnel eventually gathered up the two boys and they all hiked together out of the woods, relying completely on flashlights until they reached the tracks and safety in the pitch dark night.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.