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Fairfield Cops Rescue Autistic Man in Mill River

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield Police helped avoid a tragedy Saturday afternoon. Officers William Demotses and Lance Newkirchen and Sgt. Edward Weihe dove into Mill River to pull out an autistic man who had jumped into the water.

The 19-year-old man, described as “severely autistic,” was reported missing from his home near S. Pine Creek Road at the same time that police received reports of a man running in the street in the same area. Newkirchen spotted the man on Harbor Road Bridge and saw him jump into the river.

The man then began swimming back and forth from the bridge to about 25 feet into the river, ignoring officers’ calls to return to shore.

“We don’t know how long he could have stayed in there without getting hypothermia,” Demotses said. “He needed to get out of the water as quick as possible.”

Demotses, a member of the Fairfield Police Dive Team, grabbed his equipment and headed to the scene. He and Weihe dove in after the man and pulled him out of the water without a struggle. They then passed him off to Newkirchen, Sgt. Edward Kovac and Officer Frank Demarco on shore.

After being evaluated by paramedics on scene, the man was returned to his family. He was not harmed during the incident.

“Incidents like this don’t happen through luck,” Police Chief Gary MacNamara said of the rescue. “It happens through proper training and preparedness.”

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