Sunday, September 8, 2013

Amputee Afghanistan Veteran grateful lifeguard goes ‘above and beyond’

Veteran grateful lifeguard goes ‘above and beyond’
Rescuer searched nearly 2 hours to recover prosthetic leg.
Daily News
By David Rogers and Michele Dargan
Staff Writers
September 8, 2013

What the ocean takes, a lifeguard can sometimes return.

On Aug. 2, Wellington resident Justin Callahan was swimming off Phipps Ocean Park.

The 32-year-old Army veteran felt a rip current pull him into deeper water. Then the unexpected happened: The current ripped away his prosthetic leg.

His girlfriend, Katie Riker, was sitting on the beach.

“All of a sudden, he was yelling, ‘Help. Help,’ ” Riker said. “He said, ‘I lost my leg.’ Thank God he was OK.”

Shocked, the two waded through the water, trying to find the limb that completed his left leg.

“The riptide was really strong that day,” Callahan said. “I thought it was long gone in the ocean.”

Riker searched to no avail, Callahan said. The two left the beach dismayed — the limb costs about $8,000 and is hard to replace.

In January 2004, while Callahan was working as part of a ordnance and mine-sweeping unit with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, an improvised explosive device blew up and ripped off the lower half of his left leg.
Lifeguard Dennis Wytrykush took the call and then spent nearly two hours searching the water where the leg was lost, even figuring out which way the tide had been going the previous day. read more here

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