UPDATE: Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad member is critical after Irene water rescue this morning. NJ Governor Chris Christie issues correction that firefighter had died during storm.

Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad


Around noon on Sunday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reported a Princeton firefighter had died during a rescue operation early this morning. That information turned out to not be correct. The rescuer did not die, but is in critical condition.

In addition, the person is a 39-year-old member of the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad. The name has not been released.

The official infomation from Princeton Township is that two members of the squad were returning on foot from checking out a vehicle near Johnson Park School that was partially submerged when one of the two slipped into the rushing water. Both squad members were then "unsecured in the water". One of the pair was unharmed and the other was "found unconscious".  EMS, fire & police were initially dispatched to the call around 4:30 AM. The vehicle turned out to be empty.

From the Princeton Township Police Department Faceboook page:

The Governor's report of a Princeton Firefighter death last night is inaccurate. The correct report is that a Princeton First Aid member was critically injured early this morning during a rescue operation. Our thoughts go out to him and his family.

CentralJersey.com's Victoria Hurley-Schubert has this account of the rescue operation:

The Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad swift water rescue technicians entered the water in an attempt to determine if persons were trapped inside the vehicle, according to the release. During the course of the rescue attempt it was determined that the conditions were too dangerous for the technicians to continue the rescue, and the two assigned rescuers were recalled. While attempting to return to safety, one of the rescuers slipped into the rapid current which set off a series of events which caused both rescuers to be cast unsecured into the water, according to the press statement.

One of the rescuers was able to gain his footing and was brought to safety without incident. The second rescuer was located and found unconscious, and life-saving efforts were initiated at the scene. The second rescuer, whose name is being withheld by police, was transported to a local hospital and was in critical condition, police said. 

From Greta Cuyler at PrincetonPatch.com:

"Gov. Christie should have checked with the Princeton Fire Chief first," said Fire Chief Dan Tomalin on Sunday, moments after Christie's press conference. 

Princeton Township Police Sgt. Michael Cifelli told Princeton Patch that the first aid worker swept up in flooding during the water rescue was still in critical condition, but not dead.

From NJ.com's Matt Friedman:

Gov. Chris Christie, at a press conference this afternoon, said that a firefighter in Princeton “succumbed to his injuries from an attempted swift water rescue.”

But the governor's office has acknowledged that Christie was incorrect. The fire fighter is still alive in the ICU, according to Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner, who spoke with The Associated Press.


One firefighter was killed this morning during a water rescue operation near Johnson Park Elementary School in Princeton, New Jersey. Here's what is known so far.

From NJ.com:

A firefighter has died after attempting a water rescue in Princeton, Gov. Chris Christie announced this afternoon.

“We’ve learned that a firefighter has succumed to his injuries from an attempted swift water rescue that took place in Princeton,” said the governor.

Earlier from NJ.com:

An hour ago, one first aid responder in Princeton was awaiting water rescue after going in to rescue someone else, according to Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner.

Another first aid responder is in the hospital after being pulled from the same body of water, Goerner said.