2005-07-08 / Community

Off-Duty Firefighters Pull Boy From Surf

By Alyssa Goldstein

Firefighters Clifford (left) and Brandes rescued a boy from the surf on the Fourth of July.Firefighters Clifford (left) and Brandes rescued a boy from the surf on the Fourth of July.

  • A pair of off duty firefighters came to the aid of a mentally challenged teen who had difficulty while boogie boarding off Beach 149 Street on July Fourth.
  • Firefighters Michael Clifford of Ladder Company 175 in East New York and Battalion 41 Chief, Butch Brandes, rescued the unidentified teen, who was boogie boarding and got caught on a rock jetty.

    Although it was Clifford and Brandes who raced into action, it was Clifford’s wife, Cynthia, who first noticed the teen in trouble.

    At around 5 p.m., Cynthia went for a walk with her son along the Neponsit shoreline, she told The Wave.

    While walking she noticed a group of seemingly unsupervised mentally challenged individuals, who she believes were in their late teens or early 20s. Cynthia became alarmed, she said, when she observed one boy who was out on a boogey board and looked like he was getting into trouble.

    “He looked like he was out too far,” she recalled. Moments later, Brandes, who also saw the boy, raced into action.

    The man “was bouncing off of the rocks,” said Brandes. The boy’s mother was waving him in from the shore, he said.

    Brandes grabbed the boy – described as 18-years-old and about 6’ 2” tall and about 250 pounds – but he was having difficulty getting him to the shore with the rough waters and winds, which he estimated to be 10 to 15 knots.

    The two were perilously close to the rock jetty when Clifford reached them in the water.

    Two lifeguards also came to their assistance, and everyone reached dry land safely.

    After the rescue, the young man’s father thanked the firefighters. The boy suffered no injuries, but was definitely “shook up,” Brandes said.

    Brandes, a former lifeguard, and Clifford, were both happy that they were in the right place at the right time.

    “We’re just glad that nobody was hurt,” said Clifford, who seemed to dismiss the minor cuts on his stomach and back that he suffered in the rescue.

    Cynthia told The Wave she was proud of both men and was enthusiastic to share their story of heroism, which comes at a time when FDNY members have gained media attention for various alleged indiscretions.

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