Morris Plains, NJ drowning rescue, Jun 1908


Gilligan, Legless, with but One Arm, Swims to Rescue

NEW YORK June 20. - With stumps for legs and a stump for his right arm, and his left hand minus several fingers, Joe Gilligan, 18 years old, swam to the rescue of two boys in the gravel pit pond Morris Plains N. J. and saved their lives yesterday afternoon.

Alexander Patterson and Augustus Monaham, 12 years old each, were in an old boat on the little pond near the Lackawanna Railroad tracks at Morris Plains. The pond is about 10 feet deep at the greatest depth and it was at this point the boys upset the boat while playing. Patterson could not swim and he clasped Monahan around the neck. Before he was drageed under, Monahan cried [illegible] for help.

Gilligan was sitting with other boys under the shade of a tree but out of sight of the pond. He had been showing his friends the artificial limbs his parents had procured to save his afflictions. He had unstrapped the limbs when he heard the cry for help. Not stopping to put them on for in the years he had been without them he had learned to run on his stumps of legs and his one good arm. Gilligan hustled to the pond crying, "Hold fast, I'm coming!"

Plunging in, he swam to the spot where the boys were struggling, grasped the two lads and pushed them apart. He then swam with one hand and pushed Patterson ashore.

Returning, Gilligan went after Monahan, who was sinking. The cripple also pushed him ashore safely and the two boys grateful to their rescuer, carried him to his home where he received dry clothing.

Gilligan, 10 years ago was run over by a trolley car in Brooklyn. He lost one leg above the knee and the other below the knee, his right arm was taken off at the elebow and three fingers from his left hand. He learned to swim a few years ago and has joined with the boys of the neighborhood in their games, even playing baseball after a fashion of his own.

The Pawtucket Times, Pawtucket, RI 20 Jun 1908