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Toy copter in water prompts Danvers rescue scramble
By Andrew Hickey
Staff writer


DANVERS — A wayward children's toy drew dozens of rescuers to the edge of the Putnamville Reservoir last night to investigate strange flashing lights on the water's surface.

Scores of Danvers and state police, Danvers harbormasters and Danvers firefighters, along with a Beverly Fire Department dive team, gathered at the back yard of 42 Reservoir Drive around 7 p.m. after residents spotted blinking red and green lights about 300 yards out on the water's icy surface. A state police helicopter was called in for a flyover but was later called off.

Investigators feared the lights, which dimmed significantly over time, could be anything from a downed plane to a stranded boater, but no one knew for sure, said Patrolman Michael Bean, who was first to respond.

The town water department told police there are no lights on the reservoir's surface and boats with motors are not allowed on the water.

Police used night-vision goggles, a Fire Department thermal imaging camera and several flashlights but couldn't make out the source of the lights through the fog. Checks with Logan International Airport and Beverly Airport found no planes were missing, Danvers police Sgt. Paul Stone said at the scene.

Suited up and ready to go, the Beverly dive team prepared a Zodiac rescue boat to check out the source of the lights and start the rescue and recovery mission, if necessary. North Shore Ambulance also responded.

But just moments before the boat was to be launched, neighbors arrived carrying a children's toy like one that ultimately proved to be the culprit.

A Hovercopter, a yellow foam-lined, propeller-driven flying toy had found its way to the surface. The top of the circular plastic toy sports flashing red and green lights and is operated by a battery-powered remote control.

Steve Disciullo said he and his son, Nicolas, 5, flew the toy — designed to climb about 30 feet — from their home on Algonquin Road around 4 p.m. But instead of 30 feet, the toy "went crazy," Disciullo said, and carried nearly a half-mile onto the reservoir, where it continued blinking.

Disciullo said he and his wife, Judy, lost track of the toy when it cleared their house, but never imagined it could reach the reservoir. Regardless, Judy Disciullo called her friend Courtney Cassidy to tell the tale of the surprisingly far-flying Hovercopter.

"It just kept going," Steve Disciullo said. "We couldn't believe it."

So when Cassidy, who lives of Reservoir Drive, noticed emergency vehicles lining her street and saw numerous rescuers investigating a blinking light on the water, she immediately thought of the Hovercopter and called the Disciullos, who thought Cassidy was joking.

Once investigators were sure it was only a toy, the rescue was called off. The crew cleared the scene around 9 p.m.

"We're all lucky no one was hurt. It was just a little toy," Cassidy said, sharing a laugh with Disciullo.

A number of investigators also laughed at all the fuss over a children's toy. Others, however, took a more somber tone.

"Let's be happy someone wasn't out there and that people came forward before we sent anyone out on the ice," said Beverly Fire Capt. Michael Acciavatti, a safety training officer and dive team member.
 
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