Besides hockey, Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel has a strong background in swimming. He used his lifesaving skills in heroic fashion Thursday, when he dived into Boston Harbor to rescue a man from drowning.
“I wasn’t going to watch the guy die, that’s for sure,” Mougenel, 36, said. “I’m sure a lot of people would have done the same.”
On vacation with his wife, Kim, a Boston native, and the couple’s 3-month-old daughter, Reese, Mougenel was speaking on his cellphone with a prospective player and pushing his daughter in a stroller on Boston’s Long Wharf when he saw a man walk up to a railing near the water and strip to his underwear.
The 54-year old man, who Mougenel said was clearly intoxicated, then crossed over a chain and fell 20 feet into the water.
“By the time I said ‘Bud, what are you doing?’ he jumped off the pier into the (Atlantic) ocean. It was so slow. It was bizarre,” Mougenel said. “He did a couple strokes to get away from the pier and he was distressed pretty early on. By the time I ran down looking for a boat, he was submerged.”
Mougenel then plunged into the harbor to save him.
“I looked at my wife, and she looked at me like ‘Don’t you dare,’ but I’d already ripped off my shirt and was in the ocean,” Mougenel said. “By the time I got to him, he was bright purple.”
Another man and a woman followed Mougenel into the water, which they treaded for the next 35 minutes – as the man rested unconscious on Mougenel’s chest – until a Massachusetts state police boat hauled him away.
A water taxi had arrived before police, but the rescuers were unable to hoist the man onto the boat.
“It was a pretty hairy day,” Mougenel said. “I didn’t think he was going to make it.”
The unidentified man was rushed to Massachusetts General hospital, where Mougenel later learned he had survived.
“He lived, which is absolutely surprising to me,” he said. “He was never breathing the whole time I had him.”
Growing up in Scarborough, Canada, a suburb of Toronto, Mougenel earned his country’s Bronze Cross, which is a certificate in water rescue.
“My parents got me into swimming at a young age,” he said.
Other than some minor cuts incurred from barnacles on the bottom of the water taxi, Mougenel emerged from Boston Harbor unscathed, with his sense of humor intact.
When a local TV reporter asked him what he was thinking when he jumped into the water, Mougenel said he was mostly concerned about sharks that had been spotted off the coast.
“All I was thinking about was your great coverage of the Great Whites all week,” he said.
Mougenel, who guided the Wranglers to the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals last season, his third in Las Vegas, also hopes he didn’t lose a potential player when he cut short their phone conversation to save a man’s life.
“I don’t know if I got the guy I was recruiting when it happened,” he said.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.