Wareham police officers part of ‘miraculous’ rescue effort in Cape Cod Canal

Oct 8, 2018

Mattapoisett’s fire chief was one of five people pulled from the Cape Cod Canal in what authorities are calling a “miraculous” rescue after the chief’s boat struck a buoy near Stony Point Dike on Monday night. 

Two were saved by a police officer who entered the water and Fire Chief Andrew Murray was one of three people clinging to a buoy after the crash. 

Acting Police Chief John Walcek praised the efforts of all involved during the difficult nighttime rescue. 

“Officer James White risked his life tonight by jumping in the ocean without hesitation, saving two lives,” said Walcek. He added that the strong current “made the rescue of these two people miraculous. I am extremely proud of his bravery under adverse conditions.”

The incident took place shortly after 8 p.m. Police received a call from someone near the dike who reported hearing a crash and then people screaming for help.

White and Officer Blaise Lalli arrived on the scene first. The officers could see two people struggling and heard others yelling for help. White donned a life jacket and swam out with a throw ring to two people treading water 50 yards from the dike. White pulled both pulled safely to shore.

Lalli discovered three others were clinging to a buoy about 120 feet from shore and notified the Wareham Department of Natural Resources. A boat with Harbormaster Garry Buckminster and Lt. Justin Harrington of the Onset Fire Department rescued those three people. All three were pulled aboard with minor injuries.

Officials reported finding an unmanned boat in the channel during the incident owned by Andrew Murray of Mattapoisett. Murray was one of the three rescued from the buoy. Authorities determined Murray’s boat had struck the buoy, throwing all five into the water. The accident is under investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

The boat was secured and taken ashore with heavy hull damage.

“The cooperation and coordination between the multiple agencies involved, made this night end without any loss of life,” said Walcek. “Wareham is indeed lucky to have such dedicated public servants.”