North Fork Profiles

Sibling lifeguards rescue snorkeler at Southold beach


When lifeguard Sean Tuthill noticed an 82-year-old snorkeler motionless in the calm bay waters at Founders Landing in Southold Wednesday afternoon, he didn’t panic.

Sean was sitting on the lifeguard stand around 1 p.m. when he saw the unconscious man. The 16-year-old Southold teen raced into the shallow water to rescue him.

Sean’s sister, Meg, 18, assisted him on the beach.

The victim, Robert Guiry of Southold, didn’t have a pulse. He wasn’t breathing.

The lifeguards performed CPR on Mr. Guiry and were assisted by two people who were at the beach — Joseph Janketic, an off-duty EMT from South Carolina, and Donna McCabe, a nurse — until Southold Ambulance EMS personnel arrived. The Stony Brook Hospital First Responder unit also responded to the scene along with the Southold Fire Department and Southold Town police.

As the first responders took over at the scene, the Tuthills said they overheard Mr. Guiry’s pulse had been restored. He started to breathe on his own.

It was the first rescue for the siblings since they became lifeguards two years ago. However, they said they shouldn’t be the ones deemed heroes since others were involved in the rescue efforts.

“There was no time to think about anything except to do what we were taught,” said Meg, who will attend Dartmouth University this fall after graduating from Bishop McGann-Mercy High School.

A few hours after the incident, they learned Mr. Guiry was even able to talk by the time he reached Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport. He was released the next day and couldn’t be reached for comment for this story by presstime.

Sean said he felt “relief” after a reporter told him the victim pulled through.

“That’s great,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve smiled since 1 o’clock.”

Southold Fire Department assistant chief Peggy Killian said a group of rescue personnel was already assembled at the firehouse when the call came in since they had just returned from a fire alarm call at Sparkling Pointe Vineyards.

While she described the timing and placement of the various rescue workers as lucky, Ms. Killian said she attributes Mr. Guiry’s rescue to the Tuthills’ quick thinking.

“He was dead in the water and they got him breathing again,” Ms. Killian said. “If it wasn’t for them, this would have been a whole different story.”

Photo: Lifeguards Meg and Sean Tuthill at the beach Wednesday after their rescue. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

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Drowning snorkeler in Southold