Off-Duty U.S. Navy Sailors Save Boating Accident Victim

Sykes, left, and Wantoch, both instructors for the Navy's firefighting training center at Goodfellow AFB (USN)

Published Aug 14, 2019 1:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Last weekend, two off-duty U.S. Navy servicemembers saved the life of a civilian in a boating accident on Lake Nasworthy, Texas. 

Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Cody Sykes and Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Matthew Wantoch, two instructors with a Navy firefighting training program at Goodfellow AFB, were off duty and out boating with colleagues when they were flagged down by a group of panicking civilians. The boaters asked for a medic, and luckily, both Sykes and Wantoch are qualified emergency medical responders. 

A man in his mid-20s had fallen from a boat, and his ankle and calf had been caught and mangled by the boat’s propeller. Wantoch and Sykes asked a passing jet skier to find and return with the lake patrol, then jumped in to give the victim medical aid. They directed other instructors to support the injured civilian and proceeded to free the man’s leg and apply a tourniquet to prevent further blood loss. 

The San Angelo Fire Department and the Nasworthy Lake Patrol both praised the two petty officers for their quick thinking and outstanding professionalism during a chaotic and difficult rescue. They also said that without Wantoch’s and Sykes’ actions, the injured man would have died before reaching the shoreline. 

“I am just happy that we could be in the right place at the right time to help,” said Sykes.