Eagle Scout Rescues Woman Trapped in Sinking Car

Eagle Scout John Sidlinger enters the water to help 85-year-old Marie Fitzgerald, trapped in her sinking car. (Photo credit: Dana Jensen/The Day)

Scouts grow older as the years go by, yet the principles and skills they learn from the Boy Scouts of America stick with them for a lifetime, keeping them Prepared. For Life.

Years of emergency prep training came rushing back to 34-year-old Eagle Scout John Sidlinger as he jumped to help a woman trapped inside her sinking car along the Eastern Point Beach in Groton, Conn., yesterday.

Sidlinger was in a nearby parking lot eating lunch with his girlfriend when he spotted a woman struggling to park in a waterside spot. The car suddenly accelerated through the concrete and metal barrier and entered the water.

“I knew I had to go in,” Sidlinger explained to The Day.

The Eagle Scout dashed to the rocky shoreline and attempted to help the woman get out of her car as the water started to fill the interior.

As the water rushed in, the woman was unable to open the door. Sidlinger grabbed a metal pole from the dismantled guardrail to smash the front windshield. He handed the woman the end of the pole, but couldn’t free the woman from the opening.

Sidlinger’s girlfriend called 911 and the police arrived. Groton City Police Lt. Erick Jenkins shattered the passenger side window, opened the door, and freed the woman. Moments after the rescue, the woman’s Honda Civic sank to the bottom.

Thanks to the Eagle Scout’s quick-thinking and emergency training in Scouting, along with the help of local police, the 85-year-old woman was safely transported to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital for observation.

For the complete story of this Eagle Scout’s lifesaving feat, visit The Day to get the scoop.


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Hayley Cordaro is a communications specialist at the Boy Scouts of America. She loves sharing inspiring success stories and uncovering new ways volunteers and employees can make the most of their Scouting experience. If you have story ideas or questions, reach out to us at