N.J. trooper saves man from drowning while vacationing at the Shore

A sign in Cape May instructs swimmers caught in a rip current to swim parallel to the beach to escape. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

A sign in Cape May instructs swimmers caught in a rip current to swim parallel to the beach to escape. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

A New Jersey state trooper vacationing with his family in Sea Isle City recently put his water rescue training into action and saved a man from drowning.

Det. Sgt. First Class George Wren had just finished explaining the dangers of rip currents to his children in early August when a woman “frantically approached” him and “screamed that a man was drowning,” according to a New Jersey State Police news release.

Wren, who observed the man about 75 yards from the shoreline and drifting further offshore, used a surfboard and paddled through a rip current to reach the man, authorities said.

“When he reached the swimmer, he could see that the man was fatigued and barely able to keep himself afloat,” according to the news release.

Wren placed the man on the surfboard and swam with him back to the shore, where emergency personnel were awaiting.

“It was later determined that the man had suffered a heart attack when he was rescued. He has since been released from the hospital and is at home recovering,” authorities said.

How to identify a rip current:

  • A channel of churning, choppy water.
  • An area having a notable difference in water color
  • A line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
  • A break in the incoming wave pattern.

If caught in a rip current, NOAA advises:

  • Stay calm.
  • Don’t fight the current.
  • Escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an angle—away from the current—toward shore.
  • If you are unable to escape by swimming, float or tread water. When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, call or wave for help.

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