‘I didn’t think he would make it’: Brockport woman recalls canal rescue

[anvplayer video=”5192224″ station=”998131″]

BROCKPORT, N.Y. — It’s an incredible rescue story out of Brockport; a woman jumps in the Erie Canal to save her friend who fell in by accident, and couldn’t swim. Then, police and a Good Samaritan rescued both.

It happened early Sunday morning around 1 a.m. right near the police station.

Jason Newcomb, 33, of Rochester, and 34 year-old Melanie Schwab of Brockport, are incredibly thankful to be alive. News10NBC’s Eriketa Cost spoke with one of the first officers on scene, and the woman who jumped in.

Melanie and Jason were near the side of the Erie Canal, when Jason lost his footing and fell in.

“We had a couple of beers, and then we were like, ‘Alright let’s go home so we can drink at home and not drive,’” she said.

Melanie said they were leaving bars along the canal, when Jason had to relieve himself.

“I think he just lost his balance when he was going to the bathroom, and fell in. And I knew he couldn’t swim so, I laid on the wall and tried to reach out and yell for him, but he was getting further away,” she said.

That’s when she decided to jump in.

She swam out to the middle, placing Jason on her back, before trying to get back to the side of the canal.

It felt like eternity, but in reality, Melanie said police arrived within minutes. She yelled to a few passerby’s, to call 911.

The first two officers on scene were Evan Blodgett and Joshua Sime, of the Brockport Police Department.

Jason was unconscious. As Melanie tried to get him out of the water, she hit her head on the canal wall, suffering a concussion.

Police said a bystander by the name of Clarence Carithers rushed over to help.

“I had Blodgett grab onto the back of my belt, hang me over the canal embankment,” said Sime. “And I was able to get ahold of the male. And then with the help of Blodgett and Carithers, we were all able to pull him up to safety, onto land.”

“For the female, Officer Vladas and I were able to throw floatation devices, and we were able to get her over to the bank where we were. Again, assisted by Mr. Carithers, pulling her out of the water.”

Both Jason and Melanie have been released from the hospital, and are back home.

Sime said everyone involved in the rescue was courageous, and worked together as a team. He said it was also honorable for Melanie to have jumped in.

“The most humbling thing, to me, was being shoulder to shoulder with police officers and sheriffs deputies,” he said. “At that time, at the drop of a hat, dropped everything.”

“Just thankful he’s still here, and so am I,” said Melanie.

Melanie said nearby bar owners helped her warm up when she got out of the water, and provided a dry shirt.

“If I didn’t jump in and grab him, I didn’t think he was going to make it,” she said.