On a bleak early Sunday morning, an avid Port fisherman single-handedly rescued a drowning man in Manhasset Bay. A large contingent of rescuers including the Coast Guard, Nassau County helicopter and launch, the Bay constables and Kings Point police responded to the scene about 100 yards off Kings Point Shore. Fears that a second man was in the water were later proved unfounded.
At 7 a.m., on Sunday, May 15, Douglas Bronsky, a resident of Port set out fishing on his 23-foot Boston Whaler. Bronsky fishes in Manhasset Bay an average of four times a week. The weather was chilly and overcast. After one half-hour of fishing the northern part of the Bay, Bronsky was cruising in the southern portion off Kings Point when he heard cries for help. He believed the call was from a nearby boater. As he approached the boat, he realized the calls were coming from a man in the water about 50 yards away clinging to a piece of Styrofoam docking.
Bronsky immediately headed toward the cries and simultaneously radioed the Coast Guard of the latitude and longitude of the struggling man. He cautiously pulled alongside the man and tried to pull the weakened man from the chilly waters. He grasped an arm as the man's head bobbed above and below the surface. The man was heavy and wore a leather jacket. Bronsky struggled to pull him with his wet clothing into the boat for approximately 15 minutes before being successful. The man was hypothermic from the 50-degree water and his skin color was blue and white. He seemed disoriented, was fully clothed, muttered his thanks many times and said in effect he was going for a swim.
The Nassau police helicopter, which received Bronsky's cell phone number from the Coast Guard, contacted him and advised him to use caution and proceed slowly to the Kings Point shore where the Kings Point and Nassau police were waiting. Once on shore, the rescued man was removed by ambulance to North Shore Hospital for treatment. At this point, rescuers believed a second person was still in the water. The search and rescue mission continued for several hours and plans were under way to bring in divers to assist.
Sergeant Daniel Donohue of the Kings Point Police Department identified the rescued man as a white male resident of Rockaway, Queens, approximately 35 years of age, 5'10" tall and weighing approximately 170 pounds. The man's name was not released. Detectives from Nassau County's 6th Precinct responded to North Shore Hospital to investigate. The aided man was treated for hypothermia then transferred for psychiatric evaluation. Investigators subsequently gave assurances to the large assembly of rescuers that there was no second individual in the water and the search was discontinued.
Doug Bronsky, weary from the lonely struggle of pulling the man on board, returned to his dock near Port Washington Yacht Club where his wife, Linda, waited for him. As he spoke, his account was that of an unusual morning for a man doing the usual. Many a summer's day sees the Bay crowded with boats, swimmers, fishermen and people generally enjoying the water. Bronsky will see those familiar days also but, most undoubtedly, will always remember the cold Sunday morning when it was up to him and him alone, to save the life of a fellow man.