Rescuers, Victim Reflect on Near-Death Experience at Indian Well State Park

Two 18-year-old men are heroes after they came across a man struggling in the water earlier this month.

Friends Joseph Lombard and Christian Sandor were hiking at Indian Well State Park in Shelton right after a heavy downpour earlier this month. They saw a man in distress near the falls.

“That’s when he went under,” Lombard said. “And a minute later, he popped up floating face down. He didn’t have a pulse. He was completely pale, no color, and his friend was screaming.”

They began CPR. Sandor called 911. He credits the Boy Scouts for knowing what to do.

“I was a scout for about 12 years,” Sandor said. “It’s all the training you never thought you’d had to use.”

Lombard, a member of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, was able to bring 35-year-old helicopter mechanic, Fred Santoro, back to life. LifeStar airlifted him to the hospital.

“I was just looking out the window a lot of at the blades,” Santoro said. “I was just happy to fly again and also I was just thinking, OK lock this in your brain don’t ever want this to happen again.”

All three men now stay in touch, and they are planning to meet again soon.

“I want to say thank you to them,” Santoro said. “They did a great job that day. Their training kicked in and they handled it well. A lot of people can get flustered in situations like that, and they didn’t.”

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