CHELMSFORD — Chief James M. Spinney reports that the Chelmsford Police Department assisted in the rescue of two swimmers today at Freeman Lake.
At 4:30 p.m. Sunday, May 23, Officer Derek Hill was conducting routine patrols in the area of Varney playground and beach on Adams Street. He was standing at the top of the stairs that lead down to the beach and Freeman Lake when he heard yelling and some sort of disturbance coming from the shore.
Officer Hill observed a female frantically yelling that someone was drowning and pointing towards the water. He made his way to the shore and observed multiple people flailing in the water approximately 30 to 35 feet from the shore.
Officer Hill then radioed dispatch to advise of the situation and request additional units along with a medical response. At that time swimmers in the area assisted by bringing one of the swimmers to the shore. Another swimmer, later identified as the first swimmer’s brother, was seen bobbing up and down in the water, flailing his arms and calling for help.
Officer Hill then entered the water and swam approximately 40 feet off shore to the swimmer in distress, and was able to grab a plastic float and bring it to him.
With the assistance of a bystander, Officer Hill was able to lift the swimmer’s upper body up onto the plastic float. The swimmer indicated he was feeling dizzy and had swallowed a lot of water. Officer Hill and the bystander then pulled the swimmer to shore and laid him on the beach.
Officer Keith Leczynski arrived on scene and assisted with keeping both rescued swimmers alert and upright. Trinity EMS then arrived and took over providing aid.
After speaking to both swimmers and their mother, it was discovered that one of the swimmers attempted to swim after a plastic float that had blown away in the wind, and when he could no longer touch the bottom he bottom and began to panic. It was then that his brother swam out after him.
Both swimmers were transported to Lowell General Hospital for further evaluation.
“Officer Hill showed quick thinking and decisive action during this rescue and he should be commended for immediately taking control of the situation in the way he did,” Chief Spinney said. “Every second counts in a drowning scenario, and this type of reaction illustrates the training our officers undergo. We are so fortunate that Officer Hill was in the right place at the right time, and that tragedy was avoided. We also would like to thank the bystanders who took action as well and assisted in the rescue.”