Last Saturday, former Sag Harbor police Lieutenant Tom Mackey planned to only take a jog down Long Beach, but ended up saving a man from drowning. In the afternoon, Mackey was running down the stretch of the shoreline near short beach road, when he saw two men wading through the water towards what looked like a log. The men, said Mackey, were visibly upset, but he continued jogging until he saw something bob up from the water.
“I realized it was a guy’s head and he was face down,” recalled Mackey.
Within seconds, Mackey was in the bay, swimming towards the man. But by the time Mackey reached him, the man was completely blue and had stopped breathing. Mackey dragged the victim to the beach, proceeded to resuscitate him with mouth to mouth CPR and gave him a few hard blows on his back which helped clear the man’s lungs.
Friends of the victim, who were at the scene, had already dialed 911 for help. By the time Southampton Town Police and the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps arrived the man was semi-conscious and once in the ambulance was fully alert.
While Mackey worked as a police officer he received training in CPR, but for the incident on Saturday he called upon skills he acquired as a teen when he took water safety courses.
Compared to the rough waves of local Atlantic Ocean beaches, Long Beach is one of the calmest swimming spots in the area and Mackey reported that on Saturday, the bay was completely flat.
Mackey, however, believes the waters weren’t to blame for this near death, but the man’s lack of swim training.
“I think he didn’t have any idea how to swim. Even his friends who were wading in the water weren’t swimming towards him,” remarked Mackey. “I think he [the man] might have been disoriented and didn’t realize how far he was … By the time I got to him, I think he had stopped struggling.”