MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Firefighters say this was the largest rescue they can remember. Eight children and two adults stuck out on the sandbar as water rushed in around them. No lifeguards were on duty at the time at Silver Sands beach because of recent state budget cut backs.
“They couldn’t move. They couldn’t walk. I can imagine the undertow, they were feeling that against their legs,” said Milford’s Stephen Dautrich who was on the beach at the time.
A man on the beach called 911.
“He was from the area. He saw this group wondering out to the island and thought they’re going to have trouble coming back in and he alerted 911 in time,” said Milford Battalion Chief Anthony Fabrizi.
Milford Fire’s Lt. Peter Phelan responded. He said, “The adults were keeping their feet on the sandbar at the time. The children were struggling having trouble with the water and the current.”
Phelan helped the adults and children between the ages of 7 to 14 years old to safety. Lifeguards repeated warnings today, but they weren’t there Monday. To save money, the state cut their schedules to be Wednesday through Sunday.
Fabrizi said, “They can react. Now, you don’t have that. You’re relying on a bystander to be kinda scanning the waters and taking notice if something is going wrong out there.”
Firefighters are grateful for this new jet ski too. They’ve had 6 rescues this summer and say it sped up their response time. They’d rather not have to use it though. Folks should heed warnings.
Phelan said, “The island is really inviting when the tide is low, the sandbar is there. It looks safe, but it can turn on you in a second.”
“We didn’t want to get caught. So, we walked really fast,” said Lisa Owen-Hicks from Winsted.
Firefighters say you have a 3 hour window before that current gets too strong.