Charlestown police sergeant honored for saving man’s life

CHARLESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Nearly one year after he saved a man from drowning in a dangerous rip current, Charlestown Police Sgt. Phillip Gingerella was honored Tuesday for his heroic act.

Leaders from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund were on hand to formally name Sgt. Gingerella their Officer of the Month for April 2015.

On a day of rough surf last August, a man from out of state went out with a boogie board at Blue Shutters Town Beach while no lifeguards were on duty. His wife called 911 after the man became stuck in a rip current 400 feet out.

Rescue boats were on their way – but Gingerella knew there was no time to waste.

Safety Guide: Beaches and Rip Currents »
Safety Guide: Beaches and Rip Currents »

“It was very scary out there,” he said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “I didn’t recognize how bad it was until I actually got out there.”

Gingerella saved the man’s life, but ever the humbled hero, he credited the other first responders for their help.

“I only went in the water because I knew that they had my back. It was a team effort,” he said. “I looked around me and knew I had the support on the beach if I got in trouble.”

Just to further illustrate how strong the current was that day, Gingerella said he hasn’t gone back into the ocean since the rescue.

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