Quick action averts tragedy at Edgartown holiday party

Atacisio Chiabai nearly drowned early Monday morning. —Antonio Chiabai

A Tisbury man was saved from drowning at a holiday party in Edgartown shortly after 1 a.m. on Monday morning, thanks to the life-saving efforts of party attendees, Edgartown police officers and paramedics, and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital staff.

According to the police report, Edgartown first responders received a call that a man had been found at the bottom of the pool at 68 Davis Lane, where a holiday party was being hosted by Gery Conover, 54, of Edgartown.  

Edgartown Police arrived within one minute of receiving the call, and found Attacisio Chiabai, of Tisbury, breathing but unresponsive. He was on his side, “with water and foreign substances oozing out of his mouth,” the report states.

Edgartown paramedics arrived soon thereafter, and Mr. Chiabai was transported by ambulance to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, where doctors determined that “Mr. Chiabai had water on his lungs and that he possibly aspirated into his lungs,” and ordered him flown to Massachusetts General Hospital via MedFlight helicopter.

A spokesperson from Massachusetts General told The Times on Tuesday that Mr. Chiabai was listed in “good” condition.

According to the police report, Lou Paciello of Edgartown told police he and Mr. Conover were talking poolside when they noticed what they initially thought was a towel in the deep end of the pool, then quickly realized it was a person. “He further stated that he and the homeowner, Gery Conover, pulled the male from the water, and he began chest compressions as the male was not breathing on his own. At some point the male began to breathe and expel water.”

Speaking to The Times on Tuesday, Edgartown Police Lieutenant Chris Dolby praised Mr. Conover and Mr. Paciello. “They made a timely observation and acted quickly, and saved the young man’s life,” he said.

According to the police report, “[Mr. Conover] did not know the identity of the party involved, but believed he was subcontractor for a company he uses.”

The Times spoke to Mr. Chiabai’s father, Antonio, on Tuesday afternoon, who was with his son at Mass General. He said through an interpreter that his son is still on oxygen but he is beginning to recognize people and to eat on his own. He said he’s extremely grateful his son is still alive.

The Times was unable to reach Mr. Conover or Mr. Paciello for comment.