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On July 17, 2013, Larry Kraker had an accident in his small plane.

Click here to read a 2010 Sylvia Lake Online article/more about Larry and his plane. (there's video)


We had all grown used to seeing the little pontooned airplane on Sylvia Lake. Lucky for Larry, there were many individuals who rushed to the scene to help.

It is not an exaggeration to say those individuals saved Larry's life. We are so fortunate to have such a community.

Larry and his friends and family would like to thank and acknowledge:

Bill deLorraine and brother Claude (who held Larry’s head out of the water upon arrival at the scene), Bill’s nephew Claude IV, Gary Horning, Dr. Joe Robles (who directed the team stabilizing Larry in the water), Arnie Roberts, Alex Carpenter, Carl Denesha, Tommy Hentz, teens Calaeb Hance & Wyatt Porter (who held the wings up to level the plane while Claude got Larry out of the cockpit), Joe Lacks and the rescue crew for aiding the rescue. Also many thanks to Don Putman and his crew.

photo by Gary Horning, West Shore

August 26, 2013 - Info from cousins and friends

Larry has returned home to Florida and is recovering. Everyone hopes that by next summer, he will be well. I heard yesterday that the plane is still at Putmans.

 

July 29, 2013 - Sent in by Sandy Kraker

Needless to say, the days are blending together big time, but Larry’s progression is going very well.  He was moved to the acute rehab floor of Upstate on Thursday, 7/25 and began OT, PT and cognitive therapy – all of the nurses and therapists are tremendous and we are super comfortable in the fact that he is where he should be.
 
Lar is able to roll himself up to a sitting position but is only allowed to be in a vertical position if he has his “clamshell” back brace on. Of course being Larry he has been found by the nurses every now and then sitting on the bed without his brace on which of course results in a diplomatic tongue lashing…who do they think they’re dealing with?  
 
We’re taking long strolls in a wheel chair around the hospital campus as well as walker strolls around the halls and now that we’re out of the weekend schedule the workouts will be more frequent and rigorous.  Lar is standing up grabbing the walker without much help and as he walks I feel like our mother Dorothy in coaching him to “stand up straight, shoulders back, don’t slouch” as per his PT nurses. Lar has said he’s heading to the Lake at the end of this week (so he can check out his airplane!), but the discharge papers from the post Op floor indicated he will probably be in Rehab another week and half.  

The papers also indicated he is cleared to potentially fly (in a commercial airline – please) in 2 weeks from the 25th…very aggressive plans and obviously the next week will certainly tell if he stays in central NY or goes back to New Smyrna for out patient rehab.  
 
Many stories and laughable moments as you can imagine as Lar converses with his nurses and Docs.  Although he’s sick as hell of being confined to his room and the wheel chair to get around, as you can imagine he tires very easily and takes cat naps all day.  His nights are very restless and lengthy sleep is not happening…with the TBI, they are hesitant to give him any sleep aids, other than a dose of Oxy to help w/ the pain. 
 
All things considered, his attitude is great and he is fielding phone calls on a regular basis…

Upstate Medical University
2N
750 E. Adams St.
Syracuse NY 13210

 

July 24, 2013 - Watertown Daily Times

Pilot still in serious condition - By W.T. Eckert - Watertown Daily Times Staff Writer, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, Balmat. Read the full article at the WDT website...

— Ask about his love of aviation and one wonders where to begin.

Lawrence L. Kraker, the pilot who crashed his experimental plane into Sylvia Lake last week, has had his mind set on the skies since his childhood, according to a neighbor and lifelong friend of the Kraker family, Ralph W. Undercoffler.

“Where do I begin?” Mr. Undercoffler said with a chuckle when asked about Mr. Kraker’s need to climb into the skies.

Mr. Undercoffler said Mr. Kraker’s love of flying predates his 1972 graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., as his father was a flight instructor for the Navy.

Mr. Kraker went to flight school right after graduation from the academy, Mr. Undercoffler said, and was an F-14 fighter pilot.

“I think he was in love with aviation,” Mr. Undercoffler said. “The entire time he was with Delta Airlines, he was so impressed with the other pilots and the training that they would all receive.”

Mr. Kraker flew with Delta Airlines for about 25 years until his retirement seven or eight years ago, Mr. Undercoffler said.

“And he would have preferred to be in the cockpit than in training, but he admired the fact that the company gave that level of training, and as a passenger, I did, too,” Mr. Undercoffler said with a laugh.

Mr. Kraker and his family were up at the lake from his New Smyrna Beach, Fla., home for a memorial service for his father. Several weeks earlier, he had some difficulties with his Kolb Twin Star Mark III with Full Lotus Mono Float and some slight repairs had to be made, Mr. Undercoffler said.

The July 17 crash was a test run after those repairs.

Mr. Kraker was flying his aircraft when, nearby campers said, the engine failed and after 10 seconds of coasting, the plane nosedived into the water just off shore.

He was flown to Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, where he is still listed in serious condition.

“Larry was very safety conscious. He would never take anyone up unless everything was running right, and yesterday was a test flight,” Mr. Undercoffler said last week.

A post on Sylvia Lake’s website reported that Mr. Kraker’s brother, Sandy Kraker, a former president of the Sylvia Lake Association, said Mr. Kraker was “groggy but OK.”

The post also said Mr. Kraker broke his back and “is overall banged up.”

“He suffered lacerations, a couple small hematomas, 2nd degree burns, a concussion, and an L1 burst fracture in his spine,” Sandy Kraker’s post from Sunday read. “Lar had a procedure on July 18, to decompress and pin the connective vertebrae above and below the fracture. Needless to say he’s in rough shape, but had great progress cognitively a day after the invasive surgery.”

The post further said that Mr. Kraker has been fitted for a back brace and strapped in so he could sit in a chair, “a great step to getting him off the pressure of the back surgery.”

“It’s going be a long road to recovery and it’s our hope he can be moved to Rehab as soon as possible, dependent on the recovery progress,” the post said.

Sylvia Lake Association President Barbara Maloy Kane said that while the lake community is a close one, it is times like this that demonstrate how close.

“You mention that family and people smile,” Ms. Kane said. “They are pillars of this community and residents of Sylvia Lake are a very close-knit community. Everyone here is pulling for Larry’s full and complete recovery.”

Mr. Undercoffler said his friendship with Larry and Sandy Kraker was a result of their mothers being college roommates.

“That is the beauty of this lake; it is very intergenerational,” Mr. Undercoffler said. “Our kids are now friends.”

When talking about his old friend, Mr. Undercoffler painted a picture of a multidimensional man who he said had everything going for him. “He is funny and he has an interesting personality,” Mr. Undercoffler said. “When he needs to be serious, he is serious. When he needs to cut lose, he cuts lose. The Krakers are one of the greatest gifts of my life.”

Read the full article at the WDT website...

Sent in by Sandy Kraker - July 23, 2013

Lar was moved from the ICU to a “regular” room yesterday where he stood up for the 1st time. Pretty uncomfortable lying on his back / side so he got up a bunch of times last night each time putting on his “clam shell” back brace in order to sit up or stand up in the middle of the night. - Coby stayed the night. Today he (and Coby) was pretty beat, but as you can see from the attached pic he’s now cruising the hall and each time trucking a bit further. But it really kicks his butt…

We are learning that the 2nd degree burns on his upper torso are a huge contributor to his weakened state.

We hope he can be moved to a 2nd floor rehab room tomorrow or Thursday where he’ll be starting acute rehab, plebe summer at the Academy so to speak. Depending on how he does there, it should be 1-2 weeks and then hopefully out patient rehab. His request is to rehab in NSB, FL. Logistics TBD.

Assuming he moves to rehab, mail can probably be sent to:

Upstate Medical University
2N
750 E. Adams St.
Syracuse NY 13210

Sent in by Barb Maloy Kane - July 22, 2013

Just got back from seeing Larry - he is up in a chair and is getting transferred out to a regular floor bed. He is weak, but progress continues. Conversation re rehab facilities have started.

Sent in by Sandy Kraker - July 21, 2013

My brother Larry had a serious crash with his experimental airplane into Sylvia Lake. This happened on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. He was airlifted to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. He suffered lacerations, a couple small hematomas, 2nd degree burns, a concussion, and an L1 burst fracture in his spine. Lar had a procedure on July 18, to decompress and pin the connective vertebrae above and below the fracture. Needless to say he’s in rough shape, but had great progress cognitively a day after the invasive surgery.

He has been fitted for a back brace and strapped in so that he could sit in a chair, a great step to getting him off the pressure of the back surgery. It’s going be a long road to recovery and it’s our hope he can be moved to Rehab as soon as possible, dependent on the recovery progress.

He’s currently at Upstate Medical in Syracuse, Fl 6i, Rm 24, just not sure how long he’ll be there before they hopefully move him to rehab.

From what I can piece together thru calls and emails:
Many thanks to Bill DeLorraine, his brother Claude (who held Larry’s head out of the water upon arrival at the scene), Bill’s nephew Claude IV, Gary Horning, Dr. Joe Robles (who directed the team stabilizing Lar in the water), Arnie Roberts, Alex Carpenter, Carl Denesha, Tommy Hentz, teens Calaeb Hance & Wyatt Porter (who held the wings up to level the plane while Claude got Larry out of the cockpit), Joe Lacks and the rescue crew for aiding the rescue. Apologies if I missed anyone or incorrectly described the situation as I’ve heard…

Also many thanks to Don Putman and the crew who helped him dismantle the plane yesterday and Shari Barnhart for updating the website w/ the news links and the notices regarding dad’s service.


Click the thumbnail photos below to enlarge.

From the Watertown Daily Times

By W.T. ECKERT, TIMES STAFF WRITER
THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2013
BALMAT — A man injured when his seaplane crashed in Sylvia Lake on Wednesday afternoon was flown to Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, in serious condition.

The pilot was Larry Kraker, 64, Sylvia Lake, said W. Joseph Lacks, St. Lawrence County fire investigator and a Gouverneur firefighter. Mr. Lacks said the cause of the crash hasn’t been determined.

“He was flying around the lake and crashed in the water close to the shore,” Mr. Lacks said.
Mr. Kraker was flying alone at the time of the crash. Mr. Lacks said there were campers nearby who pulled him out of the partially submerged plane.

“They kept him above water with life jackets until a pontoon boat and myself arrived,” Mr. Lacks said. “We got him in the boat and to the pumphouse on Pumphouse Road.”

Calaeb R. Hance, 15, Gouverneur, and Wyatt R. Porter, 14, were on a water scooter when they looked up and noticed that the ultralight plane’s engine had failed.

“We saw him hovering and we heard the engine stop,” Calaeb said. “He hovered for 10 seconds and then the plane dove in head first.”

The plane landed in a swampy area that residents call “the inlet,” on the south end of the lake.
“I floored the Jet-Ski and we were the first there,” said Wyatt, whose father and uncle own camps on the lake. The plane was pulled out of the water onto the uncle’s property.

“We had to lift the wing up and were trying to get his head above water,” Wyatt said. “We didn’t know if we were supposed to move him.”

State police Sgt. Eric R. Hadlock said the accident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration and investigators will evaluate the wreckage to decipher the cause of the crash.

“When they brought him to shore he was alert and conscious,” Sgt. Hadlock said. “We pulled the plane out of the inlet and at the recommendation of the DEC wanted to do so as quickly as possible to limit contamination.”

State Department of Environmental Conservation personnel were on the scene cleaning up what fuel was spilled from the accident into the lake using contamination-absorbing pads.

DEC Officer Scott W. Atwood said only a small amount of gas leaked into the lake.

“Two or three gallons of fuel might have leaked out,” Mr. Atwood said. “It could have been worse. The gas tanks were intact except for a small hole.”

From the Wall Street Journal Online via the Associated Press

FOWLER, N.Y. — Authorities say a seaplane has crashed in a northern New York lake, injuring the pilot.

The Watertown Daily Times reports (http://bit.ly/17lSMZJ ) the plane went down Wednesday afternoon close to shore on Sylvia Lake in the St. Lawrence County town of Fowler, 93 miles northeast of Syracuse.

St. Lawrence County fire investigator W. Joseph Lacks says Lawrence Kraker was rescued by campers who pulled him out of the plane and kept him afloat with life jackets until emergency crews arrived.

Kraker, who public records show lives in Gouverneur (guhv-er-NOOR'), was taken to Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. A hospital spokeswoman says no information was available on Kraker late Wednesday afternoon.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

—Copyright 2013 Associated Press


 
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