IPSWICH — Ipswich Police Chief Paul Nikas is today praising the quick thinking and heroic actions of Marine Patrol Supervisor and Assistant Harbormaster, Patrol Officer Matthew Bodwell, who responded with the Ipswich Police Harbor Patrol boat and successfully rescued five people, including a baby and a pregnant woman, after an aluminum boat capsized in a mooring field during rough seas.
While on patrol on Saturday at 3:15 p.m. on the water near the Clark Beach mooring area, Officer Bodwell, an experienced mariner whose role on the Ipswich Police Department includes the highly specialized assistant harbormaster duties, was hailed over the marine radio on Channel 16 for a mayday message indicating a vessel had capsized in the mooring field and that people were in the water in distress.
Officer Bodwell immediately activated his blue lights and directed the patrol boat toward the area in question. As he entered the mooring field, he immediately observed an adult male in the water waving an arm for help. Officer Bodwell secured the area and went to work.
He was first able to pull a pregnant woman from the water, followed quickly by a second woman, then a 14-month-old girl, followed by two men.
Once on board the harbor patrol boat, Officer Bodwell evaluated all five people and learned that the group, consisting of two couples and the boat owners’ child, had fallen into the water after the 16-foot aluminum boat they were riding in capsized. It was quickly determined that the five rescued parties were the only people who had been on board the vessel, and no one was missing. All of the adults are believed to be in their 30s.
Officer Bodwell radioed Ipswich dispatch and the U.S Coast Guard to confirm all parties were out the water. Action Ambulance was dispatched to the Ipswich Bay Yacht Club dock, and it was waiting when the police boat arrived.
Paramedics evaluated all five people, and after they were medically cleared, Officer Bodwell drove them back to one of the couple’s residences nearby. Once they were safely home, Officer Bodwell returned to the mooring field and towed the capsized vessel to Pavilion Beach where the owner retrieved it from the water.
Officer Bodwell noted that seas were rough at the time.
“This is a remarkable situation that could have turned into an unspeakable tragedy had it not been for the immediate actions of Officer Matthew Bodwell,” Chief Nikas said. “Officer Bodwell is to be commended for his heroic work on the water on Saturday.”
Added Ipswich Police Lt. Jonathan Hubbard, the town’s Emergency Management Director: “Fortunately, in this incident, we were able to respond quickly enough with a highly-trained marine patrol officer, and we have a positive outcome, when all too often the circumstances on the water, especially in rough seas, do not turn out favorably.”
None of the boaters were wearing life jackets. Chief Nikas reminds all boaters that Coast Guard approved flotation devices are mandatory for all boaters under age 12 and are recommended for all.