An Oak Bluffs man who had fallen into the harbor early Thursday morning and was struggling to stay afloat was rescued when police officers from Tisbury and Oak Bluffs rushed to his aid.
Officers pulled Nelson Ferreira, 40, from the Oak Bluffs harbor at approximately 4:30 a.m. Thursday, Oak Bluffs Lieut. Timothy Williamson said. Mr. Ferreira was alert and conscious, and was transported to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
According to incident reports from the Oak Bluffs and Tisbury police departments, neighbors called 911 in the pre-dawn hours to report that Mr. Ferreira was screaming for help. With no Oak Bluffs police officers in the immediate area, Tisbury was also called to respond. Upon arrival, officers found Mr. Ferreira clinging to a wooden railing, exhausted and in a state of panic.
As Mr. Ferreira struggled to keep his head above water, Tisbury police officer Jason Marathas jumped into the harbor water. After attempting to lift Mr. Ferreira, Officer Marathas secured the man in a life jacket and swam him over to a nearby boat slip. Oak Bluffs police officer Daniel Cassidy also jumped in the water to assist in the rescue.
Mr. Ferreira, who according to an Oak Bluffs police report was highly intoxicated at the time of his rescue, later provided officers with a contradictory explanation of events. At one point Mr. Ferreira told officers he was pushed from a boat, the report says. Mr. Ferreira later recanted that version of events and told police that he had been in the harbor for hours and had floated from Edgartown.
Lieutenant Williamson said the case remains under investigation and that no charges are planned at this time.
“We’re thinking he was pushed into the harbor. We questioned an individual who was with him earlier in the night,” he said. “The victim has no memory other than the fact that [the individual] was drinking with him earlier in the night.”
As for the officers who came to Mr. Ferreira’s rescue, Lieutenant Williamson had high praise.
“The officers did a great job. They certainly put themselves in harms way when you jump into the harbor when it’s that cold and dark, especially when someone is panicking,” he said.