“As a retired firefighter and first responder, I couldn’t not render some assistance, so I ran down to survey the situation,” Stephen Hoyt said.
ST. GEORGE ISLAND — Of all the animal rescues stories you’ll ever hear, this one has to be among the most unusual.
It took place Monday on the porch of Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream on St. George Island. Stephen Hoyt, a recently retired Air Force senior master sergeant, together with his fiancée and two girls, 10 and 13, were enjoying their ice cream.
They could not have wished for a sunnier, calmer summer day, part of a long Independence Day holiday away from their homes in Jones County, Georgia, just north of Macon.
Each year they come down during this week, a welcome break for Hoyt, who at 54 has retired from his days in the service, a career spent mainly at Robins Air Force Base. No longer does he have to cope with the stress and pressure of being a volunteer firefighter in the rural community of Jones County, where he served as district chief for 17 years.
“Suddenly we heard a pop above the street, and two sea gulls came tumbling to the ground on their backs,” Hoyt said. “As a retired firefighter and first responder, I couldn’t not render some assistance, so I ran down to survey the situation.”
On the ground at his feet lay a pair of apparently lifeless laughing gulls, motionless, about 2 feet apart. Hoyt summoned his training and experience, and set about doing what to him was the obvious thing.
“Any first responder would have done the same thing — deliver chest compressions, that is,” he said.
Not all island visitors comprehended the seriousness and urgency of Hoyt’s mission.
“Although people driving by were stopped and laughing, I kept right on,” he said. “And after a few minutes, both birds were awake and looking around at each other and at me, wondering what happened and who was this man standing over us?”
Because they appeared to be breathing once again, and becoming more alert, Hoyt flipped them right side up.
“They both rocked on their heels but remained standing,” he said. “A few more moments of coming around, they both flew off at a low altitude and that was that. They never seemed afraid or tried to bite.”
Because photos were taken of the miracle rescue, Hoyt and company have drawn hundreds of reactions, all praising the rescue.
“I must emphasize any first responder or caregiving professional would have done the same thing,” he said. “I'm sure this sort of thing happens all the time, but luckily everyone has a camera now and everybody loves a good story.”
As for the birds, no word has been heard from them, as they presumably went about their business, eating insects, fish, and invertebrates, walking the beach, scavenging.
“It may have only been a divine moment, with man and nature co-habitating together,” Hoyt said.