Off-Duty Haverhill Firefighter Grant Rescues Man from Icy River Waters

Kayak on the ice after Sunday’s Merrimack River rescue. (Courtesy photograph.)

An off-duty Haverhill firefighter’s careful observations led to the rescue of a man Christmas Eve day who had fallen out of his kayak and into the icy waters of the Merrimack River.

Lt. Keith Grant, of Methuen, was out doing errands Sunday afternoon when he observed a man working to get his kayak into the Merrimack, off River Street near the Haverhill and Methuen line. When reached by WHAV News, Grant was reluctant to discuss his heroic role. When pressed, he explained.

“I noticed my first time I saw him and I noticed the guy in a kayak on top of the ice, trying to shimmy out to the open water,” he told WHAV.

Grant said he thought the situation was odd. He pulled over and shouted to the middle-aged man to see if he was safe. While the man gave Grant the thumbs up sign, the 20-year firefighter said he remained uneasy.

“I ran my errand, but I didn’t have a good feeling about leaving the guy. When I came back, I pulled over and went to check on him and I saw the kayak and not him.”

Grant called fire department dispatch about 1:30 and worked his way to the water’s edge.

“I grabbed a rope and started throwing it to the guy. I couldn’t reach him from the bank so I climbed down to the edge of the water and I still couldn’t reach him. I popped through the ice until I got up to about my waist and then I was able to reach him. He didn’t have the strength to hold on, but I convinced him to twist a little bit under his arm.”

As they emerged from the water, Haverhill Fire Rescue arrived. The unidentified man was taken to the hospital for treatment.