For immediate Release:
Chief Jenifer Collins-Brown and Police Chief Evan Haglund in a joint press release report that just before 8:30 AM on Sunday April 5th, Topsfield Police Officer Frost received a report from a passing motorist that two kayakers had been separated from their boats and were in distress in the waters of the Ipswich River near Boston Street. Officer Frost responded to the scene, notifying the dispatchers at the Northshore Regional Emergency Communications Center, which prompted two other on-duty officers, Sgt. Hovey and Det. Pickering to respond as well as a the duty crew at the fire station and the chief, who was off duty but in the area at the time of dispatch. Police units arrived promptly, as the incident occurred just after shift change 1/4 of a mile from the station and recognized two men, one from Danvers, the other from Tyngsboro, in the water and endanger of being swept away by the strong currents given the high waters from recent rains. Police units initiated a rescue attempt, traversing down a steep and rocky hillside to reach the victims while Ambulance 1 arrived with Lt. Boyle and FF Hallinan, accompanied by Chief Collins-Brown. In the haste to reach the victims before they were taken away by the river or fell victim to hypothermia, one of the officers suffered a non-life threatening ankle injury. Ropes were brought to the officers who had reached the water and were subsequently thrown to the victims so they could be pulled to shore. Engine 2 and Squad 1 arrived within ten minutes with off-duty firefighters that responded to the call. Chief Collins-Brown assumed command of the incident now that the water rescue was accomplished, while Lt. Boyle switched rolls to coordinate rope rescue operations needed to extricate the hypothermic victims and the injured officer from the approximately 30 foot drop back up to street level. Northeast Regional ambulance assisted on scene, transporting 1 patient to a local hospital, a second patient was transported by Topsfield Fire Paramedics, the third patient refused transport. Many thanks are owed, specifically to the motorist who identified the people in need of assistance, TPD Capt. Hayward, Wenham, Boxford, and Danvers Police who assisted with town coverage and traffic control, and the Boxford Fire Department who covered the town with an engine company while Topsfield’s firefighters were engaged at the incident. Both chiefs would like to take this opportunity to praise the boots on the ground for thinking quickly and working together to reach a successful and overall positive end to the incident. As a small town with 2-3 police officers and 2 firefighter on duty at any time, incidents like these present a serious challenge, excellent cooperation and teamwork is the key to saving lives. This time of year is tempting to get out and enjoy the outdoors in New England, especially with the ongoing pandemic keeping people indoors, but anyone wishing to travel recreationally on the river or any body of water should know that the currents are strong with the high water level, the water is cold, as is the air, and anyone operating watercraft should utilize a personal flotation device like a life jacket at all times.