A Brick Township woman is lucky to have survived falling off a dock into the Metedeconk River, thanks to the tenacity of her two neighbors and a township police officer who ultimately pulled her to safety.
The scary scene played out Saturday at about 4:30 p.m., according to Sgt. Jim Kelly. It was then that a resident, identified as a 69-year-old woman, went to check on the lines of her boat tied to the dock because of the approaching storm. She lost her footing and fell into the river, Kelly said, then attempting to swim along the dock’s pilings to reach the shore. But due to the swift current and the temperature of the water she quickly grew fatigued and was unable to save herself.
“At that time she began calling for help,” Kelly said.
Her neighbor, Gene Serpentelli, heard the faint calls for help and went outside, shouting, “Where are you?”
When he was able to discern the direction from which the calls were coming, he and another person from his household, Natia Chachava, started searching. They found the woman struggling in the water near her dock.
The victim, struggling in the water, told Chachava that there was a life jacket in the boat next to her, which she retrieved and passed on to the woman in distress. To prevent her from being swept away by the current, Chachava held on to one of the straps while Serpentelli called the police.
Brick Police Officer Ray LaPoint was the first to respond, Kelly said. Upon his arrival, the woman told LaPoint that she was becoming weak and losing her grip. Without hesitation, LaPoint climbed down to a beam under the bulkheading, grabbed a hold of the woman, and pulled her out of the river on to the dock.
Brick Police EMTs responded and tended to the woman for an initial assessment of injury and hypothermia. The woman was safe and refused any further medical care.
“The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, stated how grateful and impressed she was with how quickly the police responded, and how Officer LaPoint was able to pull her out of the water,” Kelly said.