ARLINGTON (CBS) – Lifeguards at Walden Pond don’t climb into their chairs until 10 a.m. so they weren’t on the job Monday morning just after 8:30 when a swimmer got into trouble, but fortunately, an Arlington police officer was.
“I’m thankful I was there,” Officer Matt Riley said.
Matt Riley was off duty and in swim trunks as he settled his two young kids onto the beach at Walden Pond where he quickly spotted a woman screaming and pointing.
“She kept yelling ‘somebody help, somebody help please,’” Riley said.
About 50 feet out was a swimmer in obvious distress and Riley prepped his kids for what was coming.
“I had just put them down, they had their sand toys and I told them to sit still for a minute and be right back,” Riley said.
And with that, the 9-year veteran dove in and raced out to the elderly man who was flailing his arms in a panic and gasping for air.
“I turned him around and grabbed him from the backside and just started swimming back in,” Riley said.
Riley says his adrenaline and cop training kicked in, but CPR wasn’t needed because the 70-year-old swimmer spit out a bunch of water and was OK by the time paramedics arrived.
“He said thank you and asked me my name and just kept thanking me,” Riley said.
Concord police were quick to praise Riley, pointing out that cops are never really off-duty.
“You’re on 24 hours a day and this is the perfect example of an officer being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing,” Concord Police Capt. Tom Mulcahy said.
Officer Riley is not real comfortable with the whole “hero” thing. He did, however get a kick out of his five-year-old daughter’s reaction.
“My daughter gave me a high five and told me good job,” Riley said
The 70-year-old Cambridge man was taken to the hospital and will be OK. Concord police are going to recommend the Arlington officer for a special commendation.
The rescue comes just 24 hours after a man drowned on the other side of Walden Pond.