Dartmouth firefighter, New Bedford officer rescue man from drowning

Mar 5, 2018

A Dartmouth Fire District No. 1 firefighter and a New Bedford police officer are credited with saving a man’s life after his car began to submerge in Clarks Cove on March 2.

Off duty Dartmouth firefighter Peter Andrade was driving to his mother’s house in New Bedford just as a Nor’easter was moving across the region. In what he said feels like a coincidence, the firefighter took a quick look to his right to see a car in the cove off of Rodney French Boulevard on the New Bedford side.

He quickly radioed in to the New Bedford's fire and police departments and his own department about the situation.

Andrade noticed the wipers in the car were on and was getting ready to enter the water when New Bedford Police Capt. Dennis Ledo stopped to help. Both men entered the water and noticed a 24-year-old man in the vehicle, which was about 35 yards into the water.

The two men were about waist deep and a quarter of the way to the car when the victim’s door opened and he began floating out of the vehicle. Andrade remembers seeing the man take what looked like his last breath before grabbing him from going under water.

Ledo and Andrade carried the man to shore, where emergency services were waiting. The victim was taken to St. Lukes Hospital, according to Deputy Fire Chief Jake Bettencourt. Bettencourt said he believes the man is out of the hospital, but is unaware of his full condition.

Andrade is a 27 year veteran of the department and in charge of the Marine Division, which handles water emergencies. He is described by the Bettencourt as being humble. However, Bettencourt said he deserves recognition for his actions.

“On behalf of District 1, Andrade’s actions have lifted the spirits of everyone and all of the members are proud of his heroic actions that day,” Bettencourt said.

For Andrade, most of what happened feels like a blur now, but in the moment, with adrenaline pumping, it was all just natural instinct.

“Somebody’s son or daughter was in that car,” Andrade said. “I didn’t really think about it.”

Andrade is just happy he didn’t have to do it alone, thanking Ledo for his help. He also thanked his fire department for providing the necessary equipment and training for such emergencies.