Sag Harbor resident Bruce Beyer is not the kind of person who has headphones on while he's working outdoors.
“I love to hear just the sounds of the water and the peaceful sounds of the world spinning," he said Monday.
And because Beyer keeps attuned to what's around him, he was able to save a woman's life on Oct. 27.
"It was just a good thing I was listening," he said, "because if I had an iPod in my ears I never would have heard her cries for help.”
Beyer said he was at the village dock in Sag Harbor securing his boat before Hurricane Sandy swept in when he noticed the faint cries. He went to find the source, but he could not see anyone. As he got closer, they began to call back and forth to each other. He was able to locate her at the Sag Harbor Cove West Marina, in the water stuck between a rigid dock and floating dock, he said.
The woman was in 12 feet of water, holding on to the floating dock to keep her head above water. Beyer said she had been there with her boyfriend, who was riding his boat to Hampton Bays to keep it safe during the coming hurricane. She was supposed to drive to Hampton Bays to meet him, but she lost her footing on the docks and fell in. The water was cold, and she was fully clothed, being dragged down by the wet clothing and shoes, Beyer said, adding that she could have been in the water for as long as an hour when he got to her her.
Beyer was able to reach down, grab her arms and pull her out. He said it took some coaxing to convince her to let go of the floating dock, because she was in a panic.
Beyer said her ankles were slashed up by barnacles, and he had to knock water out of her lungs.
If no one found her, she would have drowned, he said. "It was getting dark and cold quick, because the sun was going down.”
If there had been a boat motor running or a lawn mower working nearby at the time, he never would have been able to hear her, Beyer said. “It was just being in the right place at the right time.”
The victim was taken by ambulance to Southampton Hospital to recover. Beyer said he never caught her full name.
Marina employees verified the save, though could not offer more details about the incident.