[Hpn] A lifetime of struggle ends in drowning

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Mon, 07 Aug 2006 05:26:22 -0400


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A lifetime of struggle ends in drowning

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/08/07/a_life=
time_of_struggle_ends_in_drowning/
Homeless victim fought alcoholism
By Maria Cramer, Globe Staff  |  August 7, 2006

HYANNIS -- For a little while, it seemed as though Andrew Rusnak would =
be OK.

He had stayed sober for almost five months and seemed ready to leave =
life on the streets, said his mother, Maureen Kelly.
But about three weeks ago, Rusnak called Kelly from a phone at the NOAH =
Shelter in Hyannis, where he sometimes stayed. He was drunk and said he =
needed money for food and cigarettes.

Kelly, disappointed and worried that he would spend the money on more =
alcohol, refused his request.

``I just said, `Randy, I love you,' and hung up," she said. It was the =
last time they spoke.

On Thursday, Rusnak, 38, went swimming in Fawcett Pond off West Main =
Street and drowned. Police believe he might have been intoxicated. =
Yesterday, his mother, who lives in Colorado, and his friends in Hyannis =
mourned a talented, bright man who could not overcome alcohol =
dependence, a disease Kelly said he developed as early as childhood.

Rusnak's death was one of at least three drownings, as well as a =
near-drowning, reported around New England in the last four days. Two =
men died Saturday in separate accidents on New Hampshire's Lake =
Winnipesaukee. Divers yesterday recovered the body of one of the men, =
Derek McGovern, 32, of Boston, about 1:30 p.m. in 33 feet of water near =
Varney Point in Gilford.

McGovern, an Irish citizen who officials said lived in Roslindale, had =
failed to make it back to a friend's boat after jumping into the water.

He and Frederick Surette, 51, of Raymond, disappeared hours apart =
Saturday while swimming in open water. Surette vanished about 2:45 p.m. =
while swimming in choppy water off Rattlesnake Island in Alton. The area =
where Surette is believed to have drowned is about 100 feet deep -- too =
deep for divers but searchable by underwater cameras, police said.

Yesterday, a 3-year-old boy nearly drowned in Houghton's Pond in Milton. =
He was taken to Children's Hospital, and his condition was unavailable =
last night. Also last night, authorities were searching for a possible =
drowning victim in the Quabbin Reservoir in New Salem.

Rusnak's death shook his friends, who knew him as an honest man with a =
trusting nature .

``It's sad," said Noel Latour , 40, who met Rusnak at the Pilot House, =
another homeless shelter in Hyannis, where the two bonded over music and =
video games.

Police said that on Thursday afternoon Rusnak went with other friends to =
Fawcett Pond and decided to swim to a dock on the other side of the =
pond.

Hyannis firefighters found his body floating in the water at about 10 =
p.m. Friday.

Kelly believes that her son, whom she adopted, was born with fetal =
alcohol syndrome that affected his learning skills and made his =
childhood difficult. He was held back twice in elementary school. Soon =
after he turned 12, he began smoking and then turned to alcohol. He =
joined a substance abuse treatment program at 14.

But he was also a skilled guitar player, a natural musician who liked to =
write his own music, Kelly said. In the ninth grade, he became class =
president and won a talent contest with his band.

As an adult, he took a job as a custodian in a middle school, where he =
quickly befriended the special education students.

``He always felt that it was the best time of his life when he was =
working with those special ed kids," Kelly said. But soon his thirst for =
alcohol began gnawing at him . School administrators learned he had been =
drinking at work and fired him, Kelly said.

Around 2003, Rusnak moved to Hyannis to follow a girlfriend.

He loved to read and if he did not like the way a book turned out, he =
would rewrite it, said Jay, a homeless 34-year-old interviewed outside =
the NOAH Shelter yesterday who declined to give his last name. ``He'd =
amaze me," Jay said.

In May 2005, he left to go to Colorado for his father's funeral.

In February, Rusnak decided to return to Massachusetts, where he felt he =
could get better treatment, Kelly said. For 4 1/2 months, he stayed =
sober. Kelly began making preparations for his return to Colorado. Then =
Rusnak called , drunk.

After their last conversation, Kelly said, she had a sinking feeling =
Rusnak was in terrible trouble.

``I knew something was really wrong," she said.

His body will be cremated and the ashes spread in the Rocky Mountains, =
Kelly said.

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com. Globe correspondents =
Emma Fitzsimmons and Sean Greene contributed to this report.=20



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<H1>A lifetime of struggle ends in drowning</H1>
<H2>&nbsp;</H2>
<H2><A=20
href=3D"http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/08/0=
7/a_lifetime_of_struggle_ends_in_drowning/">http://www.boston.com/news/lo=
cal/massachusetts/articles/2006/08/07/a_lifetime_of_struggle_ends_in_drow=
ning/</A></H2>
<H2>Homeless victim fought alcoholism</H2>
<P class=3Dbyline><SPAN>By Maria Cramer, Globe Staff =
&nbsp;|&nbsp;</SPAN> <SPAN=20
class=3Ddate>August 7, 2006</SPAN></P>
<DIV id=3DarticleGraphs>
<DIV id=3Dpage1>
<P>HYANNIS -- For a little while, it seemed as though Andrew Rusnak =
would be=20
OK.</P>
<DIV id=3DarticleEmbed>
<DIV class=3Dembed id=3DarticleTools>
<DIV class=3DtoolsHeader>He had stayed sober for almost five months and =
seemed=20
ready to leave life on the streets, said his mother, Maureen=20
Kelly.</DIV></DIV></DIV>
<P>But about three weeks ago, Rusnak called Kelly from a phone at the =
NOAH=20
Shelter in Hyannis, where he sometimes stayed. He was drunk and said he =
needed=20
money for food and cigarettes.</P>
<P>Kelly, disappointed and worried that he would spend the money on more =

alcohol, refused his request.</P>
<P>``I just said, `Randy, I love you,' and hung up," she said. It was =
the last=20
time they spoke.</P>
<P>On Thursday, Rusnak, 38, went swimming in Fawcett Pond off West Main =
Street=20
and drowned. Police believe he might have been intoxicated. Yesterday, =
his=20
mother, who lives in Colorado, and his friends in Hyannis mourned a =
talented,=20
bright man who could not overcome alcohol dependence, a disease Kelly =
said he=20
developed as early as childhood.</P>
<P>Rusnak's death was one of at least three drownings, as well as a=20
near-drowning, reported around New England in the last four days. Two =
men died=20
Saturday in separate accidents on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee. =
Divers=20
yesterday recovered the body of one of the men, Derek McGovern, 32, of =
Boston,=20
about 1:30 p.m. in 33 feet of water near Varney Point in Gilford.</P>
<P>McGovern, an Irish citizen who officials said lived in Roslindale, =
had failed=20
to make it back to a friend's boat after jumping into the water.</P>
<P>He and Frederick Surette, 51, of Raymond, disappeared hours apart =
Saturday=20
while swimming in open water. Surette vanished about 2:45 p.m. while =
swimming in=20
choppy water off Rattlesnake Island in Alton. The area where Surette is =
believed=20
to have drowned is about 100 feet deep -- too deep for divers but =
searchable by=20
underwater cameras, police said.</P>
<P>Yesterday, a 3-year-old boy nearly drowned in Houghton's Pond in =
Milton. He=20
was taken to Children's Hospital, and his condition was unavailable last =

night<STRONG>. </STRONG>Also last night, authorities were searching for =
a=20
possible drowning victim in the Quabbin Reservoir in New Salem.</P>
<P>Rusnak's death shook his friends, who knew him as an honest man with =
a=20
trusting nature .</P>
<P>``It's sad," said Noel Latour , 40, who met Rusnak at the Pilot =
House,=20
another homeless shelter in Hyannis, where the two bonded over music and =
video=20
games.</P>
<P>Police said that on Thursday afternoon Rusnak went with other friends =
to=20
Fawcett Pond and decided to swim to a dock on the other side of the =
pond.</P>
<P>Hyannis firefighters found his body floating in the water at about 10 =
p.m.=20
Friday.</P>
<P>Kelly believes that her son, whom she adopted, was born with fetal =
alcohol=20
syndrome that affected his learning skills and made his childhood =
difficult. He=20
was held back twice in elementary school. Soon after he turned 12, he =
began=20
smoking and then turned to alcohol. He joined a substance abuse =
treatment=20
program at 14.</P>
<P>But he was also a skilled guitar player, a natural musician who liked =
to=20
write his own music, Kelly said. In the ninth grade, he became class =
president=20
and won a talent contest with his band.</P>
<P>As an adult, he took a job as a custodian in a middle school, where =
he=20
quickly befriended the special education students.</P>
<P>``He always felt that it was the best time of his life when he was =
working=20
with those special ed kids," Kelly said. But soon his thirst for alcohol =
began=20
gnawing at him . School administrators learned he had been drinking at =
work and=20
fired him, Kelly said.</P>
<P>Around 2003, Rusnak moved to Hyannis to follow a girlfriend.</P>
<P>He loved to read and if he did not like the way a book turned out, he =
would=20
rewrite it, said Jay, a homeless 34-year-old interviewed outside the =
NOAH=20
Shelter yesterday who declined to give his last name. ``He'd amaze me," =
Jay=20
said.</P>
<P>In May 2005, he left to go to Colorado for his father's funeral.</P>
<P>In February, Rusnak decided to return to Massachusetts, where he felt =
he=20
could get better treatment, Kelly said. For 4 1/2 months, he stayed =
sober. Kelly=20
began making preparations for his return to Colorado. Then Rusnak called =
,=20
drunk.</P>
<P>After their last conversation, Kelly said, she had a sinking feeling =
Rusnak=20
was in terrible trouble.</P>
<P>``I knew something was really wrong," she said.</P>
<P>His body will be cremated and the ashes spread in the Rocky =
Mountains, Kelly=20
said.</P>
<P><SPAN class=3Dtagline><EM>Maria Cramer can be reached at </EM><A=20
href=3D"mailto:mcramer@globe.com"><FONT=20
color=3D#000066><EM>mcramer@globe.com</EM></FONT></A><EM>. Globe =
correspondents=20
Emma Fitzsimmons and Sean Greene contributed to this report.=20
</EM></SPAN></P></DIV></DIV></DIV>

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