“That’s what we do:” Rescue diver discusses daring descent | Local news

It’s a good thing for America that Derrian Duryea has the love of a good person.

“She couldn’t be a more supportive partner, she’s an incredible woman,” Duryea said of her fiancee on Friday, just two days after the 28-year-old US Coast Guard lifeguard swimmer released. the body of a local woman from a car. at the edge of Niagara Falls.

Asked about the reaction and praise he received on social media and elsewhere, Petty Officer 2nd Class Duryea replied, “This is my job. This is what we do.

There are only a few hundred people doing this type of work for the Coast Guard, about a dozen of them including Duryea, stationed at Coast Guard Air Force Base in Detroit.

“It could have been any of us handling this case,” Duryea said. “It was just me.”

The lifeguard swimmer praised his crew and described how they received a call around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to let them know there was a car in the upper Niagara River near Niagara Falls.

Duryea explained in detail how his flight engineer, AMT 2 Jon Finnerty, gave Duryea “a precision winch, even though there were hurricane-force winds coming out of the helicopter as it hovered.”

He also explained how the expert pilot, Lt. Christopher Monacelli and the co-pilot, Lt. Jake Wawrzyniak, maintained the hover under extreme conditions.

The crew were preparing for a routine training flight to Lake St. Cloud, Minnesota, when they were redirected to Niagara Falls.

They first had to deal with inclement weather around London, Ontario. And, later, as part of crew resource management (CRM), they had to discuss several “what if” scenarios, Duryea said.

“What if we had an engine failure?” What if I got caught and we had to cut the hoist? What if the car was moving as we approached? “

In high school, the Ridgefield, Conn. Native was a competitive swimmer who always felt called into military service. “In the end, I chose the Coast Guard because of its humanitarian missions, because I would have the chance to save lives,” said Duryea.

It wasn’t until the crew arrived at the scene that they knew how close the car was to the edge of the American Falls, where deteriorating weather conditions presented additional challenges.

“The temperature was 20 degrees and there was snow, plus we had the mist from the falls. The helicopter had no de-icing capabilities … It was hard to see.

Later, the crew realized that the cockpit door was also covered in ice.

Duryea attended the US Coast Guard Academy, where he also swam competitively, entering at the age of 17. After two years, he decided to take the lifeguard swimmer route, a route he has stayed on for about seven years now, and it brought him to Niagara on the brink on Wednesday.

This was not the Coast Guard veteran’s first high-level mission in 10 years. Duryea was previously stationed for about five years in Clearwater, Florida, where a case he worked on resulted in an interview by a national cable TV news network.

Duryea has worked on a number of cases in Florida, with around 30 lives saved.

There was excellent coordination across the agency, Duryea said, citing in particular the Coast Guard station in Buffalo and the Joint Rescue Coordination Center. He also mentioned that the Niagara Falls Fire Department was on site to provide medical attention to the victim.

Planning the CRM scenario “left us with a great game plan,” said Duryea, adding “I am grateful that I was able to bring the victim home for the family.”

Dureya plans to marry his fiancee in Detroit in May 2022.

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