Higganum man describes saving family member of missing swimmer

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HADDAM – Recovery efforts continue in Haddam after a 17-year-old from Meriden disappeared at Haddam Meadows State Park Sunday.

Officials said Jay Agli, 17, of Meriden went into the river to assist his 19-year old sister who had been swept into the water from the sand bar. His sister was picked up by a nearby boater.

In those terrifying moments, another family member of theirs jumped into the water too. FOX61 spoke with the good Samaritan who helped him to safety and saw all of this happen.

David Buckie of Higganum was also at the Sunday with his daughter, who wanted to cool off. Buckie said he saw the family in the river, and then noticed something was amiss.

He said, “I noticed two of the heads went under for a couple of seconds came back up and then I heard it clear as day. One of them was yelling for help.”

Buckie said he tried to get a boater to help the swimmers but when that didn’t work, he jumped in the water himself. Using his daughter’s inner tube to stay afloat, he swam to the nearest person who was struggling. He said it was an adult family member of the teens.

“By the time I got to the swimmer in trouble, it was about 10 feet away and I could notice that he went under and I could see he gave it all he got to kind of flap his arms to try to make another stroke, but he just almost ran out of energy. He managed to get his head up, took a really deep breath and I got over to him and then he went down. He must have went about 3 feet down and I just reached down there and grabbed him pulled him up on [the float] and then we swam to the boat and we were able to haul him up on the boat,” explained Buckie.

Buckie said by that time he had lost sight of the other swimmers and he assumed they both went under.

“It was very sad you know because I was thinking to myself you know like maybe if I just got out there a minute earlier maybe I could have got the both of them,” he said.