Last week’s dramatic rescue of the Tarrytown Rec Department worker who fell into frigid lake waters, with his small tractor, had a great conclusion.
The 45-year-old man was home from the hospital within hours, a little shook up but fine.
However, that day and in days following, there have been some discrepancies over just how he got out of the water and off the ice to safety in the skate shack.
Firefighter Mike Coffey contacted me, he said, to get the true account out, as he found himself surprised by the official statements that the man walked off the ice (Greenburgh Police Chief) or was pulled off only by Greenburgh EMS (Village Administrator), or brought out only by his own men (a witness).
According to Coffey, there were a total of seven guys present by the time the man pulled himself out of the water, who together carried that “stokes basket” up that flight of stairs off the lake and into the shack.
Before this, the worker he agreed was likely in the water about 10 minutes, an eternity in such conditions – the air temperature was in the low teens that day. “It was darn close to 10 minutes,” Coffey said. “The water is ultra-dangerous and can certainly cause death.”
With two of his own Rec crew on land, they certainly just weren’t going to stand back and watch their man die, Coffey said. One called 911. Within minutes, Coffey said he was there along with Greenburgh paramedics who brought the stokes basket. Three Tarrytown police officers arrived as well.
Some men worked their way toward him on the ice as the worker was able to get himself off the partly submerged tractor and pull himself off the ice. They got close enough to the hole with the basket to get him into the basket, tie the rope to the end of it and pull him off the ice as if in a sled.
The worker certainly did not walk off at this point, said Coffey, he wasn’t even able to speak. Described as “alert and verbal the entire time,” by Mike Blau, Coffey countered that the man could not talk until he had been warmed up some in the shack, suffering from the beginning of hypothermia. Police had brought a blanket to help warm him there until Sleepy Hollow Ambulance Corps took him to the hospital.
Coffey said he is one of the 14 members of the TFD trained as an ice rescue technician and knows how precarious the whole situation was. They’ve known this guy for about 25 years, so they had to get to him out as fast as they could. “We did what we needed to do,” he said.
Together, it was indeed a great
concerted effort between all the players, as firefighter Walter Ferguson, who happened by the scene, had said. When he came upon, "all
the action at the skate shack," he described, "excellent coordination between all
emergency responders--police--fire--EMS. It was handled in a swift and
efficient manner and had a positive outcome."