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11/06/2014

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Combined law enforcement and medical experience make the Fry family excellent first responders after boat explosion

Combined law enforcement and medical experience make the Fry family excellent first responders after boat explosion
Combined law enforcement and medical experience make the Fry family excellent first responders after boat explosion

It was a beastly hot and sunny August day in Phoenix, Ariz.; a good day for boating. Looking forward to a day on the water were U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent (SA) Joshua Fry, his wife, El Paso Police Department (EPPD) Officer Amanda Fry and Joshua’s parents, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) David Fry (now retired), who is also a former paramedic, and his wife, Registered Nurse (RN) Deborah Fry.

“This was the first time my wife and I had ever gone boating with my family, and it was the last trip of the summer before I was to head back to El Paso to prepare for a major money laundering trial.” 

The Fry family waited to launch their boat into the Saguaro Lake. Ahead of them was a group of five young men and women “who looked to be in their 20s” said Joshua. They had just launched their 21-foot Donzi Regatta craft into the water.

Suddenly, when the driver turned the ignition, the boat exploded from the inboard engine. Four of the individuals had been sitting on the cushioned seats over the engine compartment, and one individual was ejected into the water. 

The Frys raced to the vessel to assess injuries and clear the area. 

“We needed to get them off of the boat,” said SA Fry. “A secondary explosion could have occurred at any moment.” 

SA Fry boarded the vessel to find the injured crying in pain, in shock and unable to think clearly or move. SA Fry physically removed them from the vessel, handing them to ASAC Fry. SA Fry carried one non-ambulatory woman to a secure secondary location to a brick structure to shield her from another possible explosion.

A woman who had been ejected into the water was badly hurt, with bleeding wounds and what appeared to be a leg fracture. The Fry family moved her inside their own vehicle where EPPD Officer Fry and RN Fry administered first aid.They were able to stop the bleeding and stabilize the leg injury.

SA Fry and ASAC Fry cleared the area of on-lookers in case another explosion occurred. ASAC Fry tried to extinguish the boat fire with the hand extinguisher, but it continued to burn and spread to the dock. 

Fire, emergency medical service and local officers arrived and subdued the fire, rendered medical aid and conducted an investigation. The woman with the severe leg injuries was flown to a medical facility and subsequently underwent surgery.

When it was all over, the Frys decided they’d had enough excitement for one day and postponed their boating trip. It hasn’t happened yet, but SA Fry says, “Maybe next summer.”

From her experience as a police officer, Amanda Fry said that when arriving on a scene, it’s sometimes a struggle to get everyone on the same page. But in this case, she said, “Without even speaking, we began working together without questioning one another. I wish every call had the same type of team work.”

In Oct. 2014, the Fry family received the ICE Director’s Award for their humanitarian actions. SA Fry said, “Witnessing my family work together seamlessly during an emergency demonstrated to me that the years of work and sacrifice my family has committed to law enforcement and the medical field has been time well spent. Sitting at the dinner table, each of us has stories either from ICE, the El Paso Police Department or the health care field. Never did we imagine that we would share an emergency experience. Helping the individuals from the boating fire and providing medical care to them is ultimately what I believe each of us truly wants to do, which is helping the public when they need it most.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 12/05/2014