What started as a desperate 9-1-1 call reporting a youth crying for help turned into a happy ending thanks to two boys.
Deputy Chief Thomas P. Palinski said the fire department was contacted at 4:47 p.m. by a caller saying they heard someone screaming, "Help I’m drowning!," near 301 Mohawk St. at the First Street intersection.
By the time emergency crews got there just about a minute later, an 11-year-old and 13-year-old, Joel Gualandi and Tyler Sharron, had already pulled their other 11-year-old friend from the Mohawk River. The youth was unconscious when his friends dragged him back to the bank, but were able to revive him, Palinski said.
The three boys "were behind the house playing in the shallow water when one of them walked or slipped out into the deep end" of the river, Palinski said. "His friends swam out to get him, pulled him out and revived him. They said they kept pumping his chest until he threw up water."
Palinski said the boys had stated that their friend’s head was out of the water when they began to swim toward him but then he suddenly went under.
"They said he went under for good," the deputy chief said. "They had to dive down to the bottom to get him and pull him back up. This while the water moving swiftly and it was murky, so it was difficult to see."
Joseph Consiglio, who resides at 301 Mohawk St., said he heard some yelling in the river and his wife Virginia called 9-1-1. As the call was going through, Consiglio said his two grandsons, Vincent DiMaggio, 33, and Mark Consiglio, 18, ran out to the back of the property and down the bank into the river. Police said both DiMaggio and Consiglio helped pull the 11-year-old from the bank.
The youth was revived and conscious by the time emergency medical technicians arrived at the scene.
"The boy was exhausted and just laid there. He didn’t say anything," Palinski said. "We gave him oxygen and took his vitals. He was purple when we got there."
Once stable, the boy was transported by AmCare Ambulance to Rome Memorial Hospital for further evaluation.
"Without a doubt, the quick actions of those boys saved their friend’s life," Palinski said. "They kept it together despite being under dire circumstances."
Police would not release the name of the victim due to his age.
The incident occurred less than a quarter mile from east Rome’s Philip A. Tosti Pool at Pinti Field on Sixth Street, which was open and busy on the hot and sunny Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday’s near-drowning also occurred just more than two years after 28-year-old Luke Marshall, of Verona, lost his life when he slid down the spillway of the river, just 100 yards north of the Erie Canal off East Whitesboro Street, and went underwater. He too was out swimming with friends during the afternoon of June 26, 2009, police said. Marshall’s body was recovered about two hours later.
Almost all city pools are currently open. The Sgt. Michael A. Uvanni Municipal Pool at 500 W. Embargo St. will be closed the entire season while crews work on two projects at the site. Wading pools at Stevens, Gryziec and Guyer fields are also in operation from noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
The wading pools are 50 cents per swimmer to use. The cost at Tosti is $1 for swimmers up to age 12, and $1.50 for those 13 and older.
Swimming at the city pools lasts until the end of August, though the exact closing dates depend on weather and how much staff is available as the season ends. The city stations two lifeguards at each wading pool while they are open. At Tosti, there are five lifeguards on at all times.