STRATFORD, Conn. -- A Stratford man and his cousin have been awarded Carnegie Hero medals for rescuing the crew of a burning clam boat in Long Island Sound off the coast of Milford in 2014.
Richard G. Williams and Anthony F. DellaMonica Jr., rescued Edward S. Popadic and another man from burning June 7, 2014. Popadic, 61, and two deckhands were working on a 40-foot clam boat in Long Island Sound, about a mile off shore, when fire broke out in the boat’s cabin and grew quickly. All three men jumped into the water, with one of the deckhands securing flotation devices for Popadic and the other deckhand before swimming to the safety of a responding boat.
Popadic and the other deckhand struggled to stay afloat alongside the burning vessel, the fuel tanks of which contained about 500 gallons of diesel fuel. Williams, 58, an international trade specialist, and his cousin, DellaMonica, 57, a veterinarian, were in a 20-foot fishing boat in the vicinity. They responded to the clam boat, which by then was consumed by flames and was billowing thick, dark smoke. Williams took his boat to within 10 feet of the burning one, DellaMonica then and threw a line to Popadic and the deckhand. They held to the line but were drawn toward the stern of Williams’s boat.
Not wanting them to be injured by his boat’s propeller, Williams maneuvered the boat to reposition the men, taking it even closer to the burning boat, as DellaMonica guided the rescue line. Williams then backed slowly away, pulling the men to safety as small explosions on the burning boat threw debris into the water.
Popadic was hospitalized for two weeks for treatment of burns before recovering.
The Carnegie Hero medal "is given to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others."
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