Heroes Honored for Rescuing 12-Year-Old from Water

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCConnecticut.com
    Heroes who saved a 12-year-old whose canoe capsized in the water were honored May 19 in New London.

    At New London City Hall Monday night, heroes filled the room. Each one responsible for saving the life of a 12-year-old girl.

    It all began two weeks ago when Keith Mutch reached for his radio and contacted the U.S. Coast Guard.

    "The waters were very rough, and the wind just kept blowing her further and further out," said Mutch.

    Looking through binoculars on Ocean Beach Park he noticed a girl without a life jacket and her dog in a canoe in trouble.

    Already out on the water nearby, the John H, a passenger ferry, answered the call to help and saw the canoe capsize.

    Crew member Gerald Flanders began tossing her life rings.

    "We were encouraging her to keep swimming, it's right there," said Flanders.

    Capt. Brent Reed said that his crew does drills for that type of rescue but that it's the " first time in 30 years we've had to do real life rescue."

    Steven Spilios, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer, drove the rescue boat.

    "We noticed as the life ring and her were getting pulled in she was very fatigued, and she looked like she was going to fall under," he said.

    In video shot by a passenger of the ferry you can see the U.S. Coast Guard moving in for the rescue.

    "She was screaming, said she can't get up, needed help," said Spilios.

    The rescue boat crew managed to grab the 12-year-old out of the water, and on Monday Mutch, the ferry crew, and members of the U.S. Coast Guard were honored by state and city leaders for their efforts.

    "It's a great feeling to bring her back to her family. It really brought me almost to tears," said Spilios.

    The harrowing rescue tested everyone, and they say they're grateful they were in the right place at the right time.

    "I'm happy I was observant that day and able to save someone's life," said Mutch.

    "That's our job, and even if it wasn't our job I think that's humanity's job," said Flanders.

    As for the girl's dog, the pup swam safely to shore and was reunited with the family thanks to Mutch.