Sponsor: Webster Bank
Invited by his aunt to spend the day at Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island, 15 year-old Anthony Masi checked first with his mother, who warned him about strong riptides and told him not to swim too far out.
Anthony was only knee-deep in the water when a strong current swept him off his feet and a large wave slammed him to the hard sand. As he hit the ocean floor, Anthony recalls he heard his neck snap.
Unable to move from the neck down, Anthony drifted on his back near the shore. While waves washed over him, he tried to keep his mouth closed. Cheryl Ann Hansen was standing in shallow water when Anthony floated by. She soon realized he was in trouble. She told a reporter from the East Hartford Gazette that “he was just laying there, asking me for help.” Hansen immediately began calling for help. A former CPR and First Aid instructor, she knew that it was important to immobilize him to prevent further injury.
Two lifeguards raced to help. Paramedics on the scene of an earlier incident quickly responded. A Life Star helicopter transported Anthony to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to replace a vertebra in his neck and repair ligament damage. After 10 days in intensive care, Anthony was moved to Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford. He spent a month learning all over again to walk, eat and perform a host of other everyday activities. His mother reports that, as of late October, he has made a nearly complete recovery and returned to school. He continues his strengthening exercises to reach his full potential.
Lisa Masi wrote, “We are forever grateful to Cheryl for getting involved and making a difference in all of our lives.”
Cheryl writes, “It could have so easily been a member of my family in the water that day and I can only hope that someone would do the same.”