Chad Ammerman

A sailboat carrying John L. McKenna capsized in Little Egg Harbor on June 21, 2021. McKenna, unable to reenter the sailboat, floated in the harbor until he arrived near a bulkhead along a bank. Fatigued, McKenna called for help. Chad Ammerman, a 41-year-old corrections officer, heard McKenna’s call for help and phoned 911. Fearful that a rescue boat might arrive too late, Ammerman procured an emptied, 29-pound plastic cooler, jumped into the water, and swam through rough currents with the help of directional instructions from bystanders. Once he reached McKenna, Ammerman instructed him to grab one handle of the cooler while Ammerman backstroked toward the bulkhead. A firefighter piloting a boat responded and delivered McKenna and Ammerman to the bulkhead, where paramedics evaluated McKenna’s condition.