Man Hospitalized After Annual New York Polar Plunge

by Samantha Whidden
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What was set to be the traditional start to the new year turned for the worst for one New York man. During the 119th Annual Polar Bear Club Plunge in Coney Island, the man reportedly had to be dragged out of the water after becoming unresponsive. 

According to the New York Post, the man entered the water apparently alone at the start of the polar plunge. He then collapsed after a few minutes in the water. Lifeguards notably were able to pull him out of the water. They began CPR before first responders arrived on the scene. The man was unresponsive despite mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions. 

The FDNY states that there were reports of cardiac arrest at 11:30 a.m. at Stillwell Ave. and Surf Ave. The authorities took the man to Coney Island Hospital. But no other information is available. 

The DailyMail reports that the water off Coney Island was 48.9 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday. The man who collapsed during the polar plunge was also part of the Polar Bear Club. Which describes itself as the oldest winter bathing organization in the United States. The event is also a free charity event. All participants do have to sign waivers in order to participate in the event.

The website for the event reads, “All funds raised help support our local non-profits and community. Including free public programming, environmental and educational programming, the arts, and more. With your help, we can help ensure that Coney Island continues to thrive!”

Meanwhile, 3,000 people attended the Coney Island polar plunge this year. Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. There is no donation minimum to register online. But the polar plunge organizers encourage a donation minimum of $25.

Incidents Have Occurred During the Polar Plunge Events Before

Although it is unusual, incidents have reportedly occurred during the polar plunge events. The DailyMail revealed that in 2009, a 35-year-old woman died shortly after she participated in a polar plunge, located in New Jersey. A man also passed away from drowning in 2020. He agreed to a dare, but the current swept him away in the Smith River. Which is in New Hampshire. 

However, most of the polar plunge events are relatively safe and without incidents. In Boston, dozens of people participated in the L Street Brownies’ 118th annual Polar Plunge at Carson Beach in South Boston Saturday as well. One participant told WCVB, “It was great. [The water is] actually warmer than I thought. My house is 42 degrees. I bet you this is warmer.”

The L Street Brownies also considers itself as the oldest polar bear club in the United States. During the Polar Plunge event, creative costumes are encouraged and spectators are always welcome. The event is dedicated to past and recently deceased Brownies. 

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