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Southold cop receives ‘Officer of the Year’ award for water rescue

For the second time in two years, Southold Town Police Officer John Crosser received his department’s Officer of the Year award for his role in a water rescue, according to Police Chief Martin Flatley. 

The award was announced and presented to Mr. Crosser at Friday’s police awards ceremony at the Sea Star Ballroom in Riverhead. The ceremony is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Southampton, which originally recognized only Southampton police officers but later expanded the awards to include all East End departments. 

Mr. Crosser received this year’s award for his role in an incident that took place Aug. 28, at about 6:40 p.m., according to Chief Flatley. 

“Our dispatch center received a 911 call reporting an injured paddleboarder in Peconic Bay, about 100 yards from the shore off Nassau Point in Cutchogue,” the chief said at Friday’s event. 

“A 63-year-old female had fallen from her stand-up paddleboard and became impaled on a mooring anchor that was partially submerged in the water,” he said. “The victim was injured by the top portion of the anchor that was made of approximately two-inch steel, impaling the upper thigh of her leg.”

Police and Cutchogue firefighters were dispatched to the scene, and Mr. Crosser was the first to arrive, the chief said. He found the victim clinging to her paddleboard, attempting to support herself in four feet of water. 

Realizing she needed immediate assistance, Mr. Crosser removed his shirt and shoes, secured his duty belt in his vehicle, and entered the water to render care.

He was able to stabilize the victim until other first responders arrived to assist in the treatment, but he realized that, given the severity of the woman’s injury, specialized equipment would be required to remove her from the anchor, the chief said. 

Mr. Crosser remained in the water with the woman for an hour while police, firefighters and other emergency personnel used heavy rescue tools to remove her from the anchor, according to Chief Flatley. 

She was then airlifted by a Suffolk County medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, where she was expected to make a full recovery, police said. 

Mr. Crosser, a nine-year veteran of the Southold Police Department, won the same award in January 2017 for his role in another water rescue. 

In that incident, which occurred about 3 a.m. March 4, 2016, police received a call from a woman who said her friend was stuck in waist-deep mud “somewhere” in Greenport. Police asked the woman to call 911, so they could pinpoint the location of the 22-year-old man, who was losing consciousness and suffering from hypothermia, police said. 

Mr. Crosser was the first officer at the scene in this case as well. He put on waders and entered the water, where he located the struggling victim, and held his head above water while directing a fire department ice rescue team to the man’s location. 

The victim was transferred to Eastern Long Island Hospital for treatment of hypothermia, officials said at the time. 

“He continues to make our department very proud,” Chief Flatley said of Mr. Crosser. 

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Photo caption: Officer of the Year John Crosser and Police Chief Marin Flatley at Friday’s ceremony. (Tim Gannon photo)