BELMAR, NJ — The swift and decisive actions of two members of the Belmar Police Department earned them recognition from the borough council.

Police Officer Lawrence Kelly and Dispatch Officer Anita Leather were honored at the governing body’s February 6 meeting for “their heroic actions” in the January 16 rescue of a 59-year-old man from the frigid waters of Shark River Inlet.

When the 911 call came at about 8:55 a.m. of a man in the inlet near the Main Street bridge, Leather calmly and professionally managed the emergency by not only dispatching the first-responders, but by identifying the man's exact location in the water so that police could respond immediately when arriving  at the scene, according to a proclamation read by Mayor Matthew Doherty.

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One of those responding officers was Kelly, who assessed the situation, spotted an unsecured kayak at the nearby Fifth Avenue docks, jumped in it and “without hesitation, made his way to the subject in distress in below-freezing temperatures,” the proclamation said.

Kelly in the kayak and two men in a canoe — identified as contractors working nearby — were able to reach the man and “using constructive authority and quick thinking, (Kelly) controlled the panicked subject to safely bring the individual to shore for medical attention,” it continued.

Leather, who plans to retire this year, and Kelly were applauded for their determination and professionalism. “Actions (like these) make us a strong and successful public safety department,” the tribute continued. “We are proud to have you both protecting all those in Belmar.”

In thanking the mayor and council for the recognition, Kelly added, “I’d also thanked the person who left that kayak so that I could rescue the gentleman with the help of plenty of others.”

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