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Suffolk County Marine Bureau

Officer James Behrens assists Luis Ramirez back to shore after his canoe capsized in Miller Place. Photo from SCPD

The decisive and brave actions of a Suffolk County Police Department 6th Precinct officer likely saved a life Wednesday morning.

Officer James Behrens rescued two men after their canoe capsized in the Long Island Sound July 11 at about 600 feet off shore near Landing Road in Miller Place, according to police.

Behrens responded to a 911 call reporting men yelling for help in the Long Island Sound in Miller Place at about 9:20 a.m.. The officer arrived on the beach and grabbed a life ring from his police vehicle and a paddle board from a local residence, and then swam out to the men and offered assistance, police said.

Town of Brookhaven Bay Constable Steven Bennett arrived on a boat and assisted Behrens with pulling the first man, Edgar Guirola-Hernandez, 33, of Brentwood, out of the water. Suffolk County Marine Bureau Officers Neil Stringer and Christopher Erickson arrived aboard Marine Delta and pulled Officer Behrens and the second man, Luis Ramirez, 44, of Centereach, out of the water. The victims were wearing life jackets.

The victims were evaluated by the Miller Place Fire Department at the Cedar Beach Marina and refused further medical treatment.

File photo

Police assisted a Commack man on Sunday afternoon after he could not get back onto his boat and was struggling in the water in the Long Island Sound, a mile and a half north of Eaton’s Neck Point.

At about 4:30 p.m. on July 12, police said Russell Giannotti and his wife Kim Giannotti anchored their boat to fish when their fishing line became tangled in the boat’s propeller. Giannotti, 63, went overboard to clear the tangled line. When he attempted get back on the boat, his boarding ladder broke and he became stranded in the water. His wife threw him a life jacket and a rope but he was unable to put the life jacket on while in the water — although he was able to hold on to it for flotation. The Commack resident ended up becoming entangled in the rescue rope and started to struggle in the water.

A passing boater observed Giannotti in distress and called 911. The boater was unable to assist due to choppy sea conditions, but was able to give the victim’s location to police dispatchers. Two Marine Bureau vessels, a Suffolk County Police helicopter, the U.S. Coast Guard and Huntington Harbormaster Marine 3 responded to the search area.

Marine Bureau Section Officers Christopher DeFeo and Anthony Sangimino responded in Marine Bravo and were the first rescuers on scene. They were directed to the victim’s location via Marine VHF radio by the nearby boater, and once they positioned their boat close to Russell, they threw him a life ring, and pulled him aboard the Marine Bravo. On board, the officers treated him for exposure and transported him to the Soundview Boat Ramp in Northport, where they were met by rescue personnel from the Northport Fire Department. Giannotti refused medical attention for exposure and minor abrasions.

Huntington Harbormaster Marine 3 took the victim’s boat in tow. The victim was eventually reunited with his boat and his wife, and both were able to return to Huntington Harbor, on their boat, without assistance.

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