Donald V. Sylvia saved Francisco O. Medeiros from drowning, New Bedford, Massachusetts, March 8, 1962. Medeiros, 43, a poor swimmer, climbed over the railing of a bridge and dropped 15 feet into Acushnet River, where he was carried downstream in water 30 feet deep 65 feet from a wharf along the river bank. From the bridge Sylvia, 32, truck driver, and a policeman threw one end of a rope toward Medeiros, who made no attempt to grasp it. Sylvia then ran 65 feet on the bridge and leaped over the railing onto a pile of sand on the wharf. He ran 50 feet to a boat moored alongside the wharf, removed only his jacket and boots, and dived into the river. Chilled by the cold water, he swam 80 feet to Medeiros, who began flailing wildly and struck Sylvia on the head with his hand. Sylvia swam behind Medeiros and took hold of the collar of his jacket. Medeiros became inert as Sylvia, tiring rapidly and with his limbs becoming numb, towed him 10 feet toward another moored boat, from which three men tried without success to hurl a rope to them. Doubting that he could tow Medeiros to the boat without aid, Sylvia released him and swam 20 feet to the rope which the man had thrown. Sylvia grasped the rope and then swam 15 feet to overtake Medeiros, who was fully submerged but floating just beneath the surface. Nearly exhausted, Sylvia obtained a hold on the jacket of Medeiros and raised him to the surface. The three men then drew them 30 feet to the boat and from the water. Medeiros was revived.
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