Five rescued by Ipswich Police Officer Matthew Bodwell when boat capsizes in harbor Saturday

An Ipswich police officer is being celebrated after he rescued five people, including a pregnant woman and a 14-month-old girl, from a capsized boat on Saturday.

Patrol Officer Matthew Bodwell received a mayday call over the marine radio during rough seas at approximately 3:15 p.m. Saturday saying that a boat had capsized near the Clark Beach mooring area and people were in the water, the Ipswich Police Department said in a statement. Bodwell, who serves as a marine patrol supervisor and assistant harbormaster, responded in the Ipswich Police Harbor Patrol boat.

Bodwell first pulled the pregnant woman from the water, followed by a second woman, the child and two men. None of the people were wearing life jackets, police said, and the five were the only people aboard the boat when it capsized.

Once the five people were out of the water and aboard the harbor patrol boat, Bodwell evaluated all five and learned that the group, which included two couples in their thirties and the child of the boat owners, had fallen in the water after the 16-foot aluminum boat capsized.

“This is a remarkable situation that could have turned into an unspeakable tragedy had it not been for the immediate actions of Officer Matthew Bodwell,” said Police Chief Paul Nikas. “Officer Bodwell is to be commended for his heroic work on the water on Saturday.”

Once on shore, all five were evaluated and medically cleared by paramedics and Bodwell drove them to the boat owners’ residence nearby. He then returned to the mooring field and towed the capsized boat to Pavilion Beach, where it was retrieved by the owner.

“Fortunately, in this incident, we were able to respond quickly enough with a highly-trained marine patrol officer, and we have a positive outcome, when all too often the circumstances on the water, especially in rough seas, do not turn out favorably,” said Lt. Jonathan Hubbard, the town’s emergency management director.

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