by Douglas B. Stevenson, Director, Center for Seafarers’ Rights
Since 2009, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) has administered the Lifesaving Benevolent Association of New York (LSBA). Founded in 1849, LSBA recognizes acts of heroism by individuals who rescue persons from the waters in and around New York City. As the current LSBA President, I recently exercised one of the most rewarding parts of my job by presenting an award to hero rescuer Elan Bacharach.
In August 2014, Mr. Shaun Smith was handling lines for vessels at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan when one of the metal cleats holding the vessel to the pier came loose, striking him in the chest. It punctured his lung, knocking him unconscious into the water. The crew of the South Street Seaport Museum’s sailing vessel S/V Pioneer immediately responded to rescue Mr. Smith.
Elan Bacharach, a deckhand on the S/V Pioneer, saw Mr. Smith disappear beneath the murky waters of the East River and—without regard for his own safety—dove in, found Mr. Smith two meters under the water and brought him to the surface. The vessel’s chief mate Susie Ordway and deckhand Miriam Rocek assessed Mr. Smith’s condition for possible spinal injuries and with Elan and others pulled Mr. Smith from the East River. Elan credited Miriam, who is an emergency medical technician, and Susie for making the rescue possible. Mr. Smith is alive today thanks to Elan Bacharach’s heroic rescue.
The LSBA commended Mr. Bacharach for his heroism with awards of a bronze medal and $1,000.