South Jersey fisherman saves boy’s life as grandfather drowns in rescue attempt
DOWNE — A fisherman is being hailed as a hero for helping to rescue a young boy Sunday from the waters at the state marina at Fortescue Creek.
The boy's grandfather, however, died despite lifesaving efforts by those who helped pulled his body from the water.
"Thank you for acting, not watching," Downe Township Fire and Rescue Chief Cliff Higbee said Monday of the action of fisherman Ray Gallagher.
Gallagher jumped off the boat he was securing near a jetty when he heard cries for help from two people in the channel.
Higbee told New Jersey 101.5 that Gallagher swam first to the 12-year-old and brought him back to shore. The second victim, identified as 54-year-old John Hearn, of Lawrence Township in Cumberland County, was drifting face down in the channel according to Higbee. Gallagher pulled Hearn to shore where one of his friends started CPR until the Dive Team arrived
"Without the selfless efforts of Raymond Gallagher and his friends, there is no doubt two people would have drowned and the dive team would have spent a long time recovering the bodies," Higbee said Monday.
Higbee said Gallagher was questioning whether he should have saved John Hearn first.
"When you have a situation like that you have to save the ones that can be saved," Higbee said. Both victims were in serious risk of drowning.
"There's a pretty strong current that runs in there. And they had just dredged the mouth of that creek. It could have been 12-15 feet deep where they were. The tide runs really hard in that area."
State Police, which also responded to the emergency and was investigating the incident, declined to release any details Tuesday.
The Associated Press contribute to this report.