Aviation unit rescues man stuck in marsh


HAWTHORNE – The Westchester County Police Aviation Unit rescued a hiker who became stuck in thigh-high mud and tall grass Wednesday in a marshy area off Croton Point Park.

The man, who was not visible from shore and could not be removed on land, was pulled out of the mud by Westchester County Police Aviation Unit personnel and brought aboard Air 3, one of the Aviation Unit’s helicopters. The helicopter then landed in a parking area and turned the man over to waiting EMS personnel, where he was treated for exposure and a laceration to his hand.

The incident began about 11:20 a.m. when parks department staff advised that a man was stuck in the marsh, where tall grasses and reeds towered above his head.  A parks department worker could hear the man calling for help and was able to get close to him, but the marshy terrain was too unstable for rescuers to safely extricate him and carry him out. 

The 41-year-old man had apparently been hiking along the Hudson River shoreline when the tide started to come in. He sank in the mud when he tried to cut through the marsh to stay on dry land.

Patrol and Emergency Services officers from the Westchester County Police, along with firefighters from the Croton-on-Hudson fire department, initially responded to attempt a rescue.  The Westchester County Police Aviation and Marine Units also responded.  Officers aboard the Marine Unit patrol boat were also unable to see the man or get close enough to rescue him.  

Aviation located the man and the helicopter’s pilot lowered the aircraft into the marsh, navigating through the reeds and hovering only a few feet above the muddy terrain. As the helicopter hovered, officers were able to pull the man out of the mud and bring him aboard.

“Our Aviation Unit did a tremendous job today under challenging circumstances. I commend Police Officer-Pilot Richard Pucillo, Officer Sean Lonergan and Detective Israel Lopez for the proficiency and skill they demonstrated in making this rescue,” Commissioner Thomas Gleason said.

The commissioner thanked all agencies that assisted at the scene, including the Westchester County parks department, Croton-on-Hudson Police Department, Croton-on-Hudson Fire Department, Croton EMS and Ossining Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

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