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62 Year old PC risks his life to save others

Year 1868

Read by Sergeant Darren Laurie – Ambassador, Royal Humane Society

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On the 21st May 1868, I left Philadelphia at half-past ten with the mails, one male and one female passenger, and four boat hands. There was a barque at anchor in the ship channel ; the weather was heavy, and a strong sea on ; it was raining and blowing, and the wind changing about. I made for Lyman, and in doing so would have passed close to the barque ; when about half way to the barque, and about a mile from the shore, the men and passengers were sitting on the weather side of the boat. All at once the wind changed, shifting over the sails, and the side the people were sitting on became the lee side ; before they could shift, the boat at once filled with water ; the boat turned half over, side up ; the ballast fell out ; the sails prevented her from going down altogether, and the anchor and chain ran out. The anchor held to the ground, so kept the boat in the same place. I made one of my men get hold of the woman, and put her on her side. I then swam round and round the boat, until I saw every one safe on her, and I also got hold of the bag in which the mails were, and gave it to one of the boatmen. I then started to swim ashore for assistance. The barque’s boat was not with her, I knew, for I had left her on the flat. I swam until I got soundings with my feet. I was about three quarters of an hour in the water. Although I could touch bottom when near shore, the water was so rough that I had to keep swimming, and was so much exhausted, that I was almost gone. I heard a man say, “Fling him a rope,” and I said, “No, I can’t catch a rope ; lay hold of me and pull me in the boat.” P. C. Porter is sixty-two years of age, and has been in the police force for thirty years. The fact of his leaving younger men in comparative safety in the boat, and risking his own life to swim a distance of a mile through a heavy sea to procure assistance for them, and doing which nearly cost him his life, is an act which ought not to go unnoticed and unrewarded.

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