Edgartown selectmen honor lifeguards for actions in fatal accident

(Left to right) Edgartown beach director Kurstin Meehan, head lifeguard Jane Sarno, and lifeguards Justine Cohen and Derek Andrade after selectmen honored them for a heroic lifesaving effort.
Photo by Steve Myrick

(Left to right) Edgartown beach director Kurstin Meehan, head lifeguard Jane Sarno, and lifeguards Justine Cohen and Derek Andrade after selectmen honored them for a heroic lifesaving effort.

Edgartown selectmen Monday honored town lifeguards for their valiant but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to save a Watertown man who died in a swimming accident off Norton Point Beach on Saturday, July 3.

Michael Romm, 34, and a companion, Volha Tsetliakova, 26, of Watertown, were swept offshore by strong currents swirling through the Norton Point breach. Mr. Romm died of cardiac arrest after he was pulled from the water by boaters who came to his rescue. Ms. Tsetliakova was unhurt.

That day beach director Kurstin Meehan, head lifeguard Jane Sarno, and lifeguards Justine Cohen and Derek Andrade raced from South Beach to the scene of the accident and swam the breach to render assistance.

In a letter to selectmen, Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby called the lifeguards’ action “heroic.”

“One of the swimmers went into cardiac arrest,” Det. Sgt. Dolby wrote. “The lifeguards continued with the rescue effort, which now included performing CPR and transferring the patient into three different boats.

“Given the treacherous conditions that exist in this area and the difficult nature of this particular rescue, these lifeguards should be commended for their selfless lifesaving efforts.”

Selectmen offered praise and thanks to the four lifeguards at Monday’s regular meeting.

“We’re all very thankful you’re on the job,” chairman Art Smadbeck said.

“I don’t think people really understand how busy they are,” selectman Michael Donoroma said. “They’re pulling people out of the water more often than we know.”