Unless Dewey Beach commissioners don grass skirts and lead a conga line down Route 1, last Saturday’s water rescue wins Summer’s Strangest by a long shot. Rachel Decenzi, a 30-year-old from Media, Penn., was naked, imperiled, and screaming for help – in about four feet of water.
Just look at the photo. This doesn’t end well.
Local police scanner enthusiast Alan Henney was on-scene, and chatted with Jason Kilmer of Olney, Md., Decenzi’s would-be savior. Kilmer said he was standing on the dock of the Rusty Rudder when he heard a cry for help. Sensing perhaps that this was his moment, Kilmer stripped down and plunged into the waist-deep water. When he waded out to Decenzi, he said, she was clearly unstable, babbling manically.
“I tried to get her to tell me where she came from and what her deal was,” he said. “All I got from her was that her name was Rachel.”
He didn’t succeed in baiting her back to shore. By this time, Rudder staff had alerted Dewey Beach Police. By the time Sgt. Cliff Dempsey and Seasonal Patrolman Andrew Street arrived, Decenzi had retreated further into the bay. The tide caught her pulled her west.
“All of a sudden, she was out far enough that we couldn’t see her anymore,” Dempsey said.
A boat from Bethany Beach Fire Department was en route, but Dempsey said the ebbing tide forced their hand. The officers stripped down to their pants and hopped in the bay, wading out until they had to swim.
Dempsey and Street found Decenzi sobbing about 300 yards offshore. The tossed a rescue ring over her head and pushed against the tide on the return swim. Dempsey said they were trudging onto shore when the Bethany boat arrived.
A Rehoboth Beach was examining a hysteric Decenzi when she attacked him, forcing exhausted and exasperated Dewey cops to arrest her. After a brief medical and psychological examination at Beebe Medical Center, a Justice of the Peace committed her to Sussex Correction Institute in default of a $2,500 secured bond.
Police didn’t say whether Decenzi was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Dempsey stressed that the dramatic swim was fairly run-of-the-mill, so far as bizarre water rescues go.
“It’s nothing special,” he said. “It’s something anyone would have done.”
Still, he said, it’s a hell of a way to wrap up the summer.
“End it with a bang,” he said, sounding none too sad to close the book on August.