Rescue victim says thank you to GVFD

Members of the Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department are pictured with the family of Jim Walsh, 62, of Cape St. Claire on Monday evening, Aug. 13. Walsh wanted to personally thank those who rescued him from the Chester River on Aug. 5, 2017. From the left, boat crew members Michael Balsoma, rescue swimmer Alex Cole, Jim’s wife, Donna, grandson Carter, 7, Jim Walsh, crew member Mark Sartain, incident command officer Troy Tilghman, firefighter Skippy Haddaway, daughter-in-law Stephanie Walsh holding 1-year-old daughter Blair, and Walsh’s son Brad. Walsh wrote the fire department a generous check toward its goal of building a new fire house, asking the community to also add their support. Crew members Jeff Anthony and Vincent Harris were not available for the picture.

GRASONVILLE — August 7, 2017, is not a day Jim Walsh of Cape St. Claire likes to remember. He was out in his boat on the Chester River with only his 6-year-old grandson Carter with him, almost directly behind the Holiday Inn Express at Kent Narrows, a place called Muddy Creek.

Walsh said, “The waters were very choppy that day, and I was attempting to turn the boat. A wave hit the boat in a manner that caused me to fall out into the water.”

As that happened, the propeller from the boat struck Walsh in his arm just below his arm pit, seriously cutting his arm. Walsh was bleeding extensively and unable to climb back into the boat.

While in the water, he said, “All I could think of was the safety of Carter. I didn’t care about myself at that moment.”

A call had been made that someone had fallen out of his boat and it was reported to Emergency Services. Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department is equipped with with rescue boats and received the call to search for the victim. The rescue crew consisted of Assistant Chief Troy Tilghman in command on the shoreline, and crew members, Lt. Vincent Harris, boat driver Jeff Anthony, and firefighters Marc Sartain, Michael Balsoma and Alex Cole.

When the crew found Walsh, Cole went in to the water to rescue him, bringing Walsh to the GFVD rescue boat for emergency treatment. Cole also returned to Walsh’s boat to turn the engine off and reassure Carter that everything would be all right with his grandfather, then 60.

Walsh had to be airlifted to University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore to stabilize his severe cut.

“The people at Shock Trauma told me the injury was very serious, and they took great care of me,” said Walsh. “I had to have rehabilitation over the past year to get complete use of my arm back. I feel I’m a very lucky guy that the crew from the Grasonville Fire Department came out to save me.”

Monday evening, Aug. 13, Walsh came over the Bay Bridge to visit the GVFD and personally thank the members for their service to him just over a year ago. He came with his wife, Donna, grandson Carter, who is now 7, his son, Brad, Carter’s father, Carter’s mom, Stephanie, Carter’s little brother Dean, 4, and sister Blair, 1.

“I didn’t expect to see the emotion on the faces of these guys who rescued me. They all wanted to take their picture with me! It was amazing to see how they felt about helping me over a year ago,” Walsh said.

Asked how he was feeling, Walsh said, “I’m fine, but I still looking for one of the flip-flops I lost when I fell overboard. If anyone sees one floating in the water out there, it’s probably mine!” (That statement was followed by laughter from everyone within hearing.)

During their visit, the Walsh family thought the best way to really say “Thank you” was to make a personal donation, writing a check to the GVFD building fund, to help the fire department with their dream of eventually building a new fire house to serve the community.

Walsh said, “I hope it helps (the donation). These folks work hard to serve the community, and I hope others will donate to their cause too!”

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