North America’s fly-fishing community comes to the aid of young Hudson angler
PHOTOS COURESTY JEN BAUMEISTER
A Hudson family is counting its blessings following the spectacular August 30 collision in Huntingdon, in which a stolen car crashed into their SUV, resulting in the death of a local resident. The international fly-fishing community has rallied to replace gear lost by Alex Baumeister in the ensuing blaze.
In an unprecedented show of support this week, the fly-fishing community throughout North America has rallied around 15-year-old Hudsonite, Alex Baumeister, who flies to Vail, Colorado, this Saturday to represent Canada in the prestigious America Cup International Fly Fishing Tournament. This following the total loss of all his treasured gear and equipment when his parents’ SUV, parked while they were eating in a restaurant in Huntingdon last Saturday night, was totally demolished by the driver of a stolen car that seconds later would go on to kill a 72-year-old pedestrian, later identified as Robert McGee, who was crossing the street nearby.
On Tuesday, a 32-year-old man was charged with dangerous driving causing death via video from his hospital bed. Said Jen Baumeister, Alex’s Mom, in an exclusive interview with Your Local Journal yesterday, “Obviously, our hearts go out to the family and friends of the poor man who was killed. It is absolutely tragic. And had the driver not hit our car, who knows how many more would have been killed as he could have ploughed right into the restaurant where we were eating.”
They were there, said Baumeister, because they had decided to stop for a bite while driving back to Hudson following a regional fly fishing competition at nearby Powerscourt that was a fundraiser for Alex and his partner, Enzo Rakoto to help cover costs of his nine-day stay in Vale.
“There were about nine of us, including Jason White from St. Lazare, and we were all so pleased with the way the day had gone,” said Baumeister. “Suddenly, someone shouted, ‘there’s a car on fire across the street.’ We could see flames from the window. We all went outside to see what was going on and one of the group said to me, ‘That’s your car.’ I was saying ‘no it can’t be, I’m parked way over there’ while sweeping my arm toward the other end of the parking area. Then I realized that my car was no longer there. It took me several minutes to digest what exactly was happening and we sat there in stunned silence.”
Added Baumeister, “We were all in a state of absolute shock. Including Jason who, just minutes earlier, had wanted to go over and pick up some money from the SUV to pay his bill. Instead, I loaned him the cash, saying he could pay me back later. Had I not, he would have been right there when the crash occurred.”
Alex, meanwhile, could only watch as his precious fishing equipment was burning up in front of him. “At this point, we did not know that a pedestrian had been killed,” stressed Baumeister. “I just can’t imagine the speed of the stolen car. From skid marks, it would appear he actually braked a bit before hitting mine. Those who actually witnessed it all were saying he was going between 120 to 150 miles an hour.”
For Alex, who has been with the team since he was 11 and whose ambition is to represent Canada at the World Championships next summer, the accident and the loss of his gear, was devastating on the eve of this all-important event in Colorado. But then, within a matter of hours said Baumeister, the fly fishing community across the continent stepped up to help.
“It has been absolutely amazing. Far Bank, the supplier of Sage, Redington and Rio, worked on it over the weekend to get things sent to Colorado in time and William Joseph is sending a new chest pack there also. “We have had National Team members lending rods and equipment Anglers from across Canada have also offered to tie competition grade flies for him. And organizers of the tournament in Colorado are also bending over backwards to help make sure he can get all the bits and pieces he will need.”
Added Baumeister, “We are so very grateful for the support within our local area and astounded by the support coming from afar. The fly fishing community is like a giant friendly family. They are the nicest most down to earth people you can ever meet. I don’t think we could have coped with this otherwise.
“Our family would also like to add a great thank you for all the messages and phone calls of concern and support from friends, neighbours, and acquaintances. We have also been receiving lovely little gifts of fishing flies and gear on our door step all weekend, which has touched us greatly.”