State Trooper helicopter crew pulls man from freezing river

LOWELL, Mass. – The head of Massachusetts State Police is calling two troopers heroes for their work rescuing a man from the Merrimack River during freezing conditions Wednesday.

Police were called to the Merrimack River near the Aiken Street bridge for reports of a person screaming in the water. State Police report that the man was emotionally distraught. However, because of his location, they were unable to reach him by land or boat.

State Police Helicopter Air 4, piloted by Trooper John Hazelrigg and carrying Tactical Flight Officer Russ Phippen, responded. The crew saw the man slip further into neck-deep water.

The pilot was able to get the helicopter into position so Phippen could hang out the side of the helicopter and grab the man from the water. During the maneuver, the landing skids of the helicopter were in the water and the door froze, preventing the troopers from shutting it.

The crew flew the victim directly to Lowell General Hospital where he received emergency care for hypothermia and is expected to survive.