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Natick lifeguards honored for rescuing fisherman

Posted by John Swinconeck  August 27, 2013 02:28 PM

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Three lifeguards who helped rescue a fisherman after his row boat capsized on Dug Pond were recognized Monday by Natick selectmen.

Tony Li, Jeff Libby, and Jeff Stoddart were congratulated by board members and other town officials for rescuing Dan Kunitz of Newton on Aug. 15, after Kunitz was spotted clinging to his overturned boat.

Other lifeguards alerted Li, who got the lifeguards’ boat ready. Libby rowed out and found that Kunitz was unable to get into his craft. Libby and Stoddart were then both able to bring Kunitz’s and Kunitz’s row boat safely to shore.

Kunitz was not wearing a lifejacket at the time, and was weighed down by his wet clothing, Li said.

“There were two major problems that needed solving,” Kunitz wrote in an email to the town. “They had to get me to shore and they had to get the boat to the landing area where I could put it on my trailer. They accomplished both these tasks. They knew what they were doing and they showed great concern for my well being.”

Stoddart and Kunitz were unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the board.

Lifeguards in Natick are certified by the American Red Cross, and they are trained throughout the summer for a range of emergencies, ranging from missing children to capsized boats, to deep water searches, according to Dan Keefe, assistant director for recreation and parks department, who oversees operations at the beach.

Recreation and Parks Director Jon Marshall told selectmen that a lifeguard’s responsibility extends beyond the buoys that mark the swimming area, and that Li, Libby, and Stoddart “acted very swiftly” when the need arose.

“Our lifeguards made rescues throughout the summer, but they went above and beyond the call of duty on this one,” Marshall said.

In an interview, Keefe said that roughly once a year, Natick lifeguards respond to an emergency beyond the designated swimming area off Memorial Beach.

“We were doing our job,” Libby told Selectmen, and thanked “our bosses for training us so well.”

Contact John Swinconeck at johnswinc@gmail.com. Follow @johnswinc on Twitter.

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