WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A group of Marine Corp recruits and their recruiters rescued a man who was drowning in the Connecticut River Saturday morning.
West Springfield Fire Lieutenant CJ Bartone told 22News, firefighters and police crews were called to the Connecticut River around 9:50 a.m. for a report of a man in distress in the river.
Lt. Bartone said two people were swimming across the Connecticut River from the Chicopee side to the West Springfield when one of them was in distress because of the fast-moving current.
A group of Marine Corps recruits were conducting physical training on the bike path on Wayside Avenue in West Springfield when the recruiters they were with heard one of the men calling for help.
“Two of us without hesitation just acted on what we knew we needed to do, which was get some help out there to him,” said Marine Recruiter Daniel Ulich.
Staff Sergeant Garrick Pelletier told 22News that himself and another recruiter jumped in the river and grabbed a cooler which two recruits used as a flotation device to help pull the distressed man to shore.
“That’s why you join the Marines, you want to make a difference in the world,” said Staff Sgt. Pelletier. “Knowing I had that opportunity today…it’s great. You don’t want to see someone like that, but being able to help someone out, it feels special.”
The man was already pulled from the riverbank when emergency crews arrived according to the West Springfield Fire Department.
Lt. Bartone said the outcome would have been drastically different if recruits weren’t there.
The river rescue ended around 10:20 a.m. and the man was taken to a local emergency room for evaluation. He has no serious injuries according to Lt. Bartone.
West Springfield Police and State Police assisted in the rescue.