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UMass student honored by police after saving a life

(Mathew Ingram / Daily Collegian)

On June 11, UMass sophomore John Stewart saved an 11-year-old boy’s life at the Oakley Country Club in Watertown, Mass.

The finance major worked at the Oakley Country Club for the last four summers and is an American Red Cross-certified lifeguard, swim coach and camp counselor.

Stewart said in an email he was working at the deep-end of the pool at the Oakley Country club when one of the younger members, Brian, swallowed a deadly amount of water after staying under water too long in the shallow-end. When he heard commotion, he hurried to help.

“As I turned the corner of the shallow-end of the pool, I laid my eyes on a dad cradling his young son while the child looked limp with his eyes receded to the back of his head,” Stewart said. “I took this lifeless boy into my arms and laid him down onto the pool deck, fully aware of the magnitude of the situation.”

Stewart was able to perform CPR, as he had learned through his Red Cross training. After two rounds of rigorous CPR, Brian began to throw up the water and was able to fully recover.

The incident on June 11 was the first time an ambulance had ever been called to the pool at the Oakley Country Club.

Abbie Pingitore, Clubhouse Manager at the country club, described Stewart as a “valued, long-time employee of Oakley Country Club,” in an email.

“[He] is great with the kids, has patience and a quick wit!”Pingitore added.

“We, the Oakley Family, tip our hat to Jack Stewart,” Pingitore said.

After  Stewart saved the child at Oakley Country Club, he was honored by the Watertown Police Department on Aug. 14.

Michael Lawn, Chief of Police in Watertown, recalled through email numerous officers immediately suggesting honoring Stewart for his actions.

Lawn described how at the ceremony, Stewart was  presented a with plaque from the police department and took pictures with some of its’ members. Other officers, Stewart’s family and local press were in attendance.

“It is unbelievable how a 19-year-old responded to such a stressful situation. It speaks volumes on how calm he stayed and dealt with the situation that ultimately saved a 11-year-old’s life. Truly remarkable for a 19-year-old,” Lawn said.

Months after Stewart was able to save Brian’s life, he shared how the danger Brian was in and his ability to respond to it continues to impact him.

“The event on June 11 was a true inflection point in my life, ushering me into adulthood,” Stewart said.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.

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