Every search-and-rescue operation he goes on is different, but this one in particular was a little more personal for New York City Police Detective Investigator Sean Daly.
Det. Inv. Daly, who is originally from Bridgehampton and now lives in Hampton Bays, pulled an 84-year-old man from a swamp on Staten Island on May 2. According to published news reports, the man had tried taking a shortcut to a doctor appointment after missing his bus, and on the way, he fell into wetlands, started sinking and became too weak to get up. Det. Inv. Daly said he found the man lying on his back in about six inches of water.
“After reflecting upon it,” the officer said, “it would be the fact of his age that reminded me of my father. I lost my father a couple of years ago. I was really happy to get him out of there.”
The man was able to call 911 himself at 2:05 p.m. and a team of 122nd Precinct officers, K9 units and emergency medical technicians responded. Eventually, a medevac was called because the initial first responders could not reach him. Det. Inv. Daly, who is a member of the NYPD scuba team, was lowered down by helicopter. He helped the man to his feet and fitted him with special jacket, and the helicopter lifted them up and transported them to Staten Island University North Hospital.
From the time the 911 call came in to the time the helicopter arrived, 18 minutes had elapsed. The man, who was alert and “in pretty good shape,” Det. Inv. Daly said, was at the hospital by 3 p.m.
What made this rescue unusual was the physical environment.
“Most of our water rescue jobs are in large open-water bays or the harbor, but this was a small pond in Staten Island,” he said.
Det. Inv. Daly has been with the NYPD for 17 years and the scuba team for 12. Scuba officers must be capable of diving year-round, must be able to complete a 50-yard swim wearing a 12-pound weight belt and must be able to tread water for 20 minutes, among other skills.
Det. Inv. Daly is also a certified lifeguard who has manned East End beaches for many years.
“Each case is different,” he said. “Sometimes you might have a person in the water, in the surf, someone after a boating accident, someone who stranded a jet ski or with a broken lag off of a tugboat. Certainly this is what we train for and what we do with some frequency over the years.”