For immediate release

IPSWICH – Ipswich Police Chief Paul Nikas today praises the quick thinking and heroic actions of Sea Patrol Supervisor and Deputy Harbor Master, Patrol Officer Matthew Bodwell, who responded with the Ipswich Police Harbor patrol boat and managed to rescue five people, including a baby and a pregnant woman, after an aluminum boat capsized in a mooring field in rough seas.

While patrolling the water at 3.15pm on Saturday near the Clark Beach docking area, Officer Bodwell, an experienced seaman whose role with the Ipswich Police Department includes the highly specialist duties assistant harbor master, was hailed by marine radio on Channel 16 for a distress message that a ship had capsized in the mooring field and people were in the water in distress.

Constable Bodwell immediately activated his blue lights and directed the patrol to the area in question. As he entered the docking area, he immediately observed an adult male in the water waving his arm for help. Officer Bodwell secured the area and got to work.

He first managed to pull a pregnant woman out of the water, followed quickly by a second woman, then a 14-month-old girl, followed by two men.

Once on board the harbor patrol boat, Constable Bodwell assessed the five and learned that the group, consisting of two couples and the boat owners’ child, had fallen into the water after the boat capsized 16-foot aluminum boat they were in. It was quickly determined that the five people rescued were the only people on board the ship and that no one was missing. All adults would be in their thirties.

Officer Bodwell radioed the Ipswich dispatcher and the US Coast Guard to confirm that all parts were out of the water. Action Ambulance was dispatched to the dock at Ipswich Bay Yacht Club, and was waiting when the police boat arrived.

Paramedics assessed the five people, and after they were medically cleared Constable Bodwell drove them back to the nearby boat owners’ residence. Once safely home, Constable Bodwell returned to the mooring field and towed the capsized vessel to Pavilion Beach where the owner retrieved it from the water.

Officer Bodwell noted that the sea was rough at the time.

“This is a remarkable situation that could have turned into an indescribable tragedy but for the immediate actions of Officer Matthew Bodwell,” Chief Nikas said. “Officer Bodwell is to be commended for his heroic work on the water on Saturday.”

Ipswich Police Lt. Jonathan Hubbard, the town’s Emergency Management Manager, added: “Fortunately, in this incident we were able to respond fairly quickly with a highly trained Marine Patrol Officer, and we have a positive result, when too often the circumstances on the water, especially in rough seas, do not turn out favourably.

None of the boaters were wearing life jackets. Chief Nikas reminds all boaters that Coast Guard approved flotation devices are mandatory for all boaters under the age of 12 and are recommended for all.

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