Off-Duty Lifeguard Makes A Night Save At Napeague

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Katie Osiecki and John Glennon, who live at Lazy Point in Amagansett, were just getting home from seeing the Jackie Robinson biography, “42,” at the movie theater, at a little after 9:30 p.m. on April 21, when Mr. Glennon heard a distant voice yelling “Help!”

“It was so windy down there that we couldn’t pinpoint where it was,” Ms. Osiecki recounted last week. It was also dark, so Mr. Glennon, a member of the Amagansett Fire Department, grabbed a radio and flashlight before he and Ms. 
Osiescki jumped in his truck 
and “kind of just followed the voice.”

They looped around the area for about 20 minutes before they found another couple near Napeague Bay also searching for the source of the cries. “And we all sort of pinpointed where the voices were coming from,” Ms. Osiecki said. East Hampton Town Police, who responded along with Amagansett Fire Department volunteers, recorded their call at 10:07 p.m.

The cries were coming from Joann Hamilton, who had driven a Porsche off the launching ramp into the bay, Town Police said later. But Mr. Glennon and Ms. Osiecki weren’t aware of that at the time. “For all I knew she went out swimming,” said Ms. Osiecki, a 21-year-old East Hampton Town lifeguard and Ocean Rescue Squad volunteer who has made John Ryan Sr., the town’s lifeguard training coordinator, very proud.

What Ms. Osiecki and her boyfriend did realize was that there was a woman about 75 yards out, and that her cries had “sort of decreased,” Ms. Osiecki said. “When we got there she had kind of stopped calling ‘Help!’” the lifeguard said. The water was about 45 degrees—“fairly cold.”

“Then, once we figured out she was in the water, I went for a swim,” Ms. Osiecki said. “John held the flashlight out and I went in and got her. … It was calm and I could stand for a good distance once I got her, coming back in,” she said. “Swimming in the dark, it’s nice to know there is a bottom.”

No, it wasn’t quite the same as when she lifeguards at South Edison Beach in Montauk. “We don’t work at night,” Ms. Osiecki pointed out. “John, my boyfriend, was there, and with a flashlight, so it didn’t feel like I was in danger.”

“I was taught how to save someone, so I should know how to do it,” Ms. Osiecki said. “I did go into the water, but there was someone spotting, someone on land, which I think is first protocol.”

“You don’t want two victims,” she pointed out.

Ms. Hamilton, 57, was already some distance from the car and treading water, although she was reportedly not making much sense. “My first question was, is there anyone else out here?” the lifeguard said. Police charged Ms. Hamilton with driving while intoxicated after the incident. “She was really nice,” Ms. Osiecki said. “I feel bad.”

By the time they reached the beach, where Mr. Glennon helped them out of the water, Ms. Hamilton was “freezing,” Ms. Osiecki said. Amagansett volunteers took her to Southampton Hospital, and the Porsche was pulled from the bay the next day.

Mr. Ryan expressed regret that Ms. Osiecki would not be in town for an Ocean Rescue Squad meeting this week, at which they’d hoped to honor the first-year member for her save. No matter how she tried to tone it down, Mr. Ryan said, it was “a dramatic rescue.”

A graduate of Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, Ms. Osiecki was going to be otherwise engaged on a trip to Singapore, Amsterdam and Frankfurt as part of an online master’s program in sustainable design through the University of Florida. The trip will take two weeks.

“I’ll be back in time for the summer lifeguarding season,” she said. It will be her second year at South Edison Beach, otherwise known as Nick’s.

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