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Ferry passenger praises crew's role in girl's rescue

By Izaskun E. Larrañeta and Greg Smith

Publication: The Day

Published May 06. 2014 4:00AM   Updated May 06. 2014 10:04AM

New London — Aside from her sea sickness, Stephanie Bruneau of Colchester recalls Sunday as a breezy day with “rough, rough waters,” during her trip back from Orient Point to New London on a Cross Sound ferry.

Unbeknownst to Bruneau, at 6:20 p.m. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound command center had received a distress call. A Good Samaritan standing on the beach at Ocean Beach in New London had spotted a canoeist in distress.

The John H ferry reported seeing the canoe capsize and a 12-year-old girl and her German shepherd enter the water, the Coast Guard said in a press release.

The Coast Guard launched a rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., a rescue boat crew from Station New London, and requested assistance from the John H.

Bruneau, the ferry passenger, went outside the passenger cabin to see what the commotion was about.

“My daughter and I saw a crew member running with a life ring and we saw the canoe in the water with the girl nearby,” she said. “She had no life jacket and was not dressed for the water.”

Several of the ferry’s crew tossed life rings into the water and on the third or fourth try got one she could grab. They pulled her to the ferry.


The girl was transferred over to the Coast Guard boat which was tethered alongside the ferry.

“I can’t give enough compliments to the ferry crew. This crew did not panic. They were like trained professionals,” Bruneau said.

With the girl showing signs of shock and hypothermia, the Coast Guard brought her back to Station New London and transferred her to an awaiting ambulance.

The girl was taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital where she was treated and released, according to a hospital spokesman.

The girl’s dog, which the ferry spent some time looking for, apparently swam to shore.

Keith Mutch of Torrington said he and a man spotted a wet German shepherd running alone on the Lawrence + Memorial Hospital beach on Pequot Avenue.

Mutch said he ran up and down the beach trying to catch the dog. He said he ran for a half hour until he cornered the dog and was able to grab onto the leash.

“I brought it to the street and talked to it to keep it calm and then I called the Coast Guard to let them know I got the dog,” Mutch said.

Mutch said the girl’s father picked up the dog.

“He was in shock and tears,” said Mutch. “He thanked me. I told him his daughter was lucky that someone was paying attention.”

i.larraneta@theday.com

g.smith@theday.com

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