01/06/2006

Mass.: Hero cop saves driver after icy plunge

By O'RYAN JOHNSON

Copyright 2006 Boston Herald Inc. 

A 55-year-old Methuen woman is in critical condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center after her car slid off an icy road and flipped into a creek, submerging her beneath frigid water for up to 20 minutes, police said.

But she would have been trapped even longer had Methuen police officer Paul Ramirez not driven by Baremeadow Street about 2:30 p.m. and seen smoke rising from the accident, police said.

Ramirez radioed for help, then waded into roughly 3 feet of icy water to rescue the woman, police said. As he did, he sunk to his waist in mud while he used his police baton to repeatedly bang on the car's window in an attempt to shatter it.

``The upper part of her body was fully submerged underwater,'' Lt. Randy Haggar said. ``Our main concern was to keep her head above water and keep her breathing. Until they were able to get the door open, she was fully submerged.''

Fire crews equipped with the Jaws of Life arrived within minutes, cutting off the car door and freeing the woman, police said. Ramirez and Officer Tim Getchell were treated for hypothermia at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen.

Methuen police Chief Joseph Solomon praised Ramirez's efforts to rescue the woman, who is related to Solomon through marriage. 
 
January 5, 2006

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