It was a daring rescue Saturday, as emergency crews rushed a kayaker out of a police helicopter and into an ambulance about half an hour after he had fallen into Jamaica Bay.
“I saw a man flailing around behind my house inside the water,” said Michelle Green, who immediately ran outside to see if the 32-year-old man was okay.
“He said, ‘No, I’m not, I’m completely numb I can’t feel anything.’ And I said, ‘Hang on, keep your head above water we’re calling 911.'”
Police say the man was kayaking with a partner when both fell out and into the frigid water.
One of the kaykers managed to swim to a boat, while the other struggled to stay afloat.
“It’s Jamacia Bay, they come out to do sightseeing, the come out to see nature, and everything, and occasionally people are trapped and stuff like that,” said local resident Ed Phillips.
“Witnesses say the current was moving so fast yesterday that one of the kayakers actually ended up about 5 blocks away from where emergency responders were starting their rescue. They say that kayaker tried to hold on to one of the pilings to stop from floating with the current, but he couldn’t hold on.”
“Police helicopters were here, fire department was here, Broad Channel Volunteers were in here, they did a terrific job.”
An Emergency Services Detective swam 200 yards to rescue the floating kayaker as he fought for his life.
Rescuers managed to get the man into a police helicopter and flew him to Floyd Bennett Field where he was met by an ambulance and taken to Kings County Hospital.
Witnesses say the men are lucky to be alive.
“Obviously it’s not someone who’s familiar with the area, the water, the conditions. To not have a life jacket on and be out in the water in the middle of February is really kind of stupid.”
Both kayakers were treated for hypothermia but are expected to be okay.