Firefighters Rescue Man, Dogs from Icy Oak Island Marsh

When Albie Sheridan walked out into the snow last Thursday, he was only trying to walk out to corral his escaped dogs.

However, he ended up walking into the national spotlight and nearly to his demise.

Sheridan said had it not been for the incredible resourcefulness of the Revere Fire Department and others involved in his – and his dogs’ – rescue Thursday morning, he wouldn’t be alive nor would his two beloved pets.

The entirety of the dual species save was caught on camera by helicopter news crews and beamed worldwide over the course of the next day.

“The Fire Department was unbelievable,” he said on Monday. “I didn’t see it because I was in an ambulance, but from what I heard and saw, it was unbelievable. For something that was just so common, like going to get my dogs that had gotten out of the backyard, just something as simple as that all the sudden went around the world. It was on the BBC, the Herald, Good Morning America and other worldwide news channels. We had so many people calling the house. It was overwhelming. A story like this could have been tragic, but thanks to our fire department, it wasn’t.

“It just happened so fast that there was no time to think,” he continued. “It wasn’t the smartest thing to do looking back, but at the time it seemed just like a normal thing. I don’t think anyone would think about danger in that moment. It was just spur of the moment to get my dogs.”

Sheridan said his dogs, Lola and Thunder, never bother anyone and never get out of their yard. However, with the snow so deep lately, they have been able to walk right over the fence.

That’s what happened Thursday, he said.
“I walked down from my home on Putnam Road and I was thinking I was still just in the snow and didn’t know I had ice under me,” he said. “All the sudden I went down and I was stuck in a hole and only the top of my head was sticking out. I was fighting to get out and I overexerted myself trying to get out of that hole. I started panicking and I called as loud as I could for my daughter. Thank God she was home.”

Sheridan’s daughter is Jacqueline Dascoli-Sheridan, a student at Revere High School (RHS) who participates in the JROTC program. She was out of school for February Break, but was supposed to have been picked up by a friend 30 minutes earlier.

It was only due to the fluke of her friend being late that someone was home to hear Sheridan call for help. Had the friend been on time, he said he doesn’t know if he’d have made it.

“If she had left on time, I would have been by myself,” he said. “She heard me calling for help and came out and saw me and immediately called 9-1-1.”

Fire Chief Gene Doherty said the original call came from Maggi Road for a male trapped in the ice about 75 feet out.

“We sent three engines, a ladder and Deputy Chief Chris Bright,” said Doherty. “Firefighters crawled out across 3 ½ feet of snow, and where the man was stuck, it was a couple of feet of icy water as well. He was up to his chest. Firefighters pulled him out and put him into a Stokes Stretcher and dragged him back.”

The decision to get the dogs wasn’t easy, Doherty said.

The dogs were about 500 feet out on an isolated ice floe.

Doherty said he wasn’t sure whether it was worth it to risk the lives of firefighters to make the risky save.

“Deputy Bright and I had to make a difficult decision to let firefighters go out in the marsh, putting them in jeopardy,” he said. “We knew we really couldn’t leave them out there floating on an ice floe and so we formulated the best and safest plan possible.”

Doherty and Bright outfitted Lt. Corey Robson and Firefighter Chuck DelGreco-Roman in ice rescue suits that had recently been purchased on a grant. They rushed the ice rescue sled to the scene and summoned a front-end loader from the DPW to remove about 30 feet of nearly four-foot deep snow.

That allowed them, he said, to get close to the marsh edge.

Also, a Festa Construction loader with an operator showed up and Jim Mercurio of Mercurio Landscaping arrived to direct.

“We tied off the sled with rope, and the firefighters made their way out to the dogs, who were not entirely cooperative,” said the chief. “The small dog, Lola, bit DelGreco on the hand, breaking the skin. He was later transported to the hospital for evaluation. The larger dog, Thunder, kept walking away. Eventually, he was lassoed by Robson, and the firefighter crew pulled everyone to shore.”

Sheridan complained of chest pains and was transported to MGH.

Wendy Roland Sheridan took control of the dogs and had them checked out at North Shore Animal Hospital in Lynn.

On scene, there were four news helicopters, and numerous camera crews on shore. An NBC News Facebook page had more than 3.6 million views of the rescue as of Sunday.

“Most of the media concentrated on the dogs and not much about us saving the adult male,” said the chief. “It was a tremendous team effort of the firefighters there in Group 1, Engine 5, Engine 1 and Ladder 1. Engine 4 was there for the adult male rescue too.”

Albie Sheridan said they are so thankful for all three rescues, and added that his family treated Revere Fire crews to a huge spread from Spinelli’s.

“We just want to let them know right now how much we are thankful for them,” Albie said.

Seth Daniel can be reached at seth@reverejournal.com

Seth Daniel:

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