- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

NORTON, Mass. (AP) - John Cacaccio doesn’t think of himself as a hero.

But, Police Chief Brian Clark certainly thought he was after the Norton High School junior jumped into the frigid Norton Reservoir last Thursday morning to help a man who had driven his SUV into the water off Route 140.

The police chief recently presented Cacaccio, 18, with a letter of recognition for his “heroic actions” in a small ceremony at police headquarters attended by detectives and police officers.

Clark said Cacaccio acted “quickly and courageously,” swimming to the SUV as it was about 40 feet from shore and drifting away to help the man and make sure no one else was inside the vehicle.

The water temperature was estimated to be in the 30s, and there was a thin film of ice on the water at the time, according to police and fire officials.

“Norton is a better community because of selfless residents like you,” Clark told Cacaccio as he presented him with the letter, a Norton police T-shirt and lapel pin.

“I was just driving by when out of the corner of my eye I saw a car in the water,” Cacaccio said matter-of-factly in an interview with The Sun Chronicle.

Cacaccio, who did not see the car actually plunge into the reservoir, said he pulled his car over and called 911 before he saw a man get out of the car.

“I didn’t know if he could swim, so I jumped right in,” Cacaccio. “It was cold.”

The teen said he really didn’t have time to think about what was happening.

“It all happened way too quickly,” Cacaccio said, adding that his main concern was helping the man and making sure no one else was inside the vehicle.

His mother, Libby Cacaccio, said she and her husband happened upon the scene. They stopped when they saw her son’s car and fire officials with him draped in a blanket.

She said that was frightening, concerned that he been in an accident, before she learned what happened.

Police said the 51-year-old Norton man was distraught when he drove into the reservoir. He was rescued about 100 feet from shore by firefighters and was treated for hypothermia at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro.

In addition to the letter of recognition and the police department swag, Cacaccio was wearing new Nike sneakers purchased with money from the Norton Police Association, the police officers’ union.

After the incident, Detective Todd Bramwell contacted the family and got the union’s approval for the funds after he learned Cacaccio had ruined the pair he was wearing when he jumped into the reservoir.

Besides being an honor student, Cacaccio works part-time jobs at D’Angelo’s in Foxboro and TGI Friday at the Mansfield Crossing mall. He also volunteers for community service, washing cruisers at the police station.

Clark says Cacaccio’s quiet, unassuming manner around the station belies his inclination for heroism out on the road.

“He doesn’t say a peep when he’s here,” Clark said.


Information from: The (Attleboro, Mass.) Sun Chronicle, https://www.thesunchronicle.com

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