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News | April 26, 2024

Army CID Agent Helps Rescue Stranded Swimmer in Italy

By Thomas B. Hamilton III Cyber Field Office-International Resident Agency, Dept. of the Army CID

An off-duty special agent with the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division helped rescue a swimmer being dragged from shore by a rip current on March 30, 2024, off the coast of southern Italy.

Special Agent Chris Gomez, stationed in Germany with Army CID’s Cyber Field Office, was on a spring break vacation with his family in the Mediterranean village of Positano, a few dozen miles south of Naples. 

Gomez was enjoying a warm cup of cappuccino while watching the stormy water from the vantage point of a stone pier beside a beach. Beachgoers were sunning themselves, but the waves were too turbulent for swimming.

Then Gomez saw a young man dive into the dangerously rough waters. He set down his cappuccino as soon as he realized the swimmer was being pulled out to sea and unable to make it back to shore safely. 

Having experience in water rescue and emergency response, Gomez knew the situation was rapidly deteriorating. He immediately began to work with other bystanders to organize a rescue. 

“Growing up next to the ocean in San Diego and being a Swiftwater Rescue Technician and Open Water Rescue Diver before I became a special agent,” Gomez explained afterward, “I knew that any delay in response would lead to a more involved and dangerous rescue attempt and most likely end in loss of life.”

Giving commands to bystanders to find a flotation device and shouting instructions to the swimmer, Gomez worked with the others to fashion a makeshift rescue harness using a flotation ring tied to multiple lengths of rope. The rescuers threw the flotation ring to the struggling swimmer. Then Gomez worked with others to move the shoreward end of the rescue line onto the adjoining beach so that the swimmer could be pulled safely ashore from that direction without running the risk of getting caught in one of the waves crashing into the end of the concrete pier.

Gomez credits his quick actions to his emergency response training, water rescue experiences, and extensive law enforcement training with Army CID.

Calder Robertson, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge, Cyber Field Office - International Resident Agency, said, “The grit and mental flexibility Special Agent Gomez showed that day are exactly the type of traits Army CID champions in its special agents. We are fortunate to have him on the Army CID Cyber team.”

Gomez did note that there was a downside to his actions that day. By the time the rescue was completed and the swimmer was safely recovering, his toasty cup of Italian cappuccino had grown stone cold.

Army CID is the Army’s Premiere Federal Law Enforcement Agency with nearly 3,000 personnel in 124 locations worldwide and is actively recruiting and has hired experienced Special Agents and subject matter experts in a wide range of fields. 

Learn more about Army CID and see career opportunities on our website and connect via LinkedIn, YouTube, and X.