DA Early Honors Shrewsbury Police Officers Who Freed Man Stuck Up to His Neck in Mud at Local Pond

May 24, 2023

For Immediate Release

Contact: Scott J. Croteau (508) 368-7228 or (774) 418-5706 

SHREWSBURY – Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. today recognized the life-saving actions by a group of Shrewsbury Police Officers who freed a man who was stuck up to his neck in mud at a local pond earlier this year.

Shrewsbury Police Officers Alex Desimone, Dillon Zona and Tyler Vlass along with Sgt. Mark Sklut were presented at a ceremony inside the new Shrewsbury Police Station with the District Attorney’s Team Excellence and Merit – TEAM Award – for their actions in February 2023.

“Police officers blend problem solving, quick thinking and fast reactions daily. These officers had to act fast and smart when they saw a man sinking deeper into the mud as seconds passed,” Mr. Early said. “Their training, coordination, teamwork and swift response saved a person’s life that day.”

On Feb. 13, 2023, Shrewsbury Police were called to Flint Pond for a report of a man who was trapped in the mud. The man, 24-year-old Shrewsbury resident, Justin Schmautz, and his girlfriend were using remote controlled boats in the water when one of them become stuck around 11:40 a.m.

Mr. Schmautz walked into the mud to try to free the boat, but he began to sink in the quicksand-like muck. Within minutes, he went from being shin deep in the mud to shoulders deep.

As his girlfriend called 911, Mr. Schmautz began to feel cold, and he began to panic.

Officer Desimone got to the scene in minutes. He tried to wade into the mud, but soon realized he couldn’t get out far enough without getting stuck.

The officer retrieved a ResQ Disc, a frisbee-like device used to help people trapped in water. He headed back to the pond and noticed Mr. Schmautz was now neck deep in the mud.

On the second throw, Mr. Schmautz caught the disc. Officer Desimone was in the middle of the pond, acting as an anchor as Officers Zona and Vlass along with Sgt. Sklut pulled on the rope.

Mr. Schmautz was freed from the mud and pulled out safely.

“I cannot thank them enough. I was so scared. I was so cold. I was in shock at how quickly they got me out,” Mr. Schmautz said. “They are the dream team. I am so thankful for them.”

“I am glad we were able to get him out,” Officer Desimone said. “It’s a good feeling to help somebody when they need it.”

“When I arrived on scene that day, I saw my officers working together and as a team to help a person in need,” Shrewsbury Police Chief Kevin Anderson said. “This is why officers serve, to protect people and I couldn’t be prouder of my officers, as I am daily of all of them.”

The TEAM Award was created by Mr. Early in 2019 to recognize public safety employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. Contact the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office at (508) 755-8601 to nominate someone for this award.


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