Boston police rescue mother of 4 from icy pond

"The police did a great job rescuing me"

By Charles Radin
The Boston Globe
A woman who jumped into a frigid Hamilton pond to save two dogs that fell through thin ice was rescued yesterday by police, who found her exhausted and in mortal peril.

Susan Gribbell, 46, of Wenham was saved by a patrolman in a cold-water rescue suit and taken to Beverly Hospital, where she was treated and released.

Hamilton police Officer Brian L. Shaw said that he was heading north from the town center on Route 1A shortly after 9 a.m. when he noticed several dogs acting strangely at the edge of the pond in Patton Park.

"I thought it was another dog in the water and pulled over," Shaw said, "but when I got closer, I saw a person's arm. It was a woman trying to pull herself up on the ice. She was screaming for help and close to going into shock."

The officer first threw a line to Gribbell, but she told him she was too weak to grab it, Shaw said, so he donned a cold-water rescue suit and, with help from Sergeant Paul Grant and Officer Joe Achadinha, pulled the woman from the water. Police estimated she was in the pond about 20 minutes.

Gribbell, the mother of four children, said she was walking her two yellow Labrador retrievers, and two West Highland terriers belonging to her sister and a friend who is on vacation, when the terriers bolted across the ice chasing the park's swans and fell through the ice.

"I went in the water to rescue them," Gribbell said. "I pushed them up onto the ice" but then had trouble getting back to shore.

Police said she was about 25 feet from shore; Gribbell estimated the distance at 40 to 60 feet.

It was the first rescue of a person from icy water in the town since 1978. "She was extremely lucky," Shaw said.

Gribbell said that "one of the officers told me, `Next time, try 911,' but you know, you don't think about that.

"The police did a great job rescuing me," Gribbell added. 

Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company

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