A 70-year-old Pembroke man died of a heart attack after trying to rescue his granddaughter's friend from the water at a Plymouth beach.
Pam Blades said her husband James died doing what came naturally: helping people.
James Blades, 70, of Pembroke, died Monday after his heart stopped while he attempted to rescue an eight-year-old girl in the water at Saquish Beach in Plymouth.
Blades was on the beach shortly before 10 a.m. watching his granddaughter and her friend swimming. When the friend called for help, he started swimming out to her but simultaneously had a heart attack.
His wife, Pam Blades, saw the scene from the window of the family's beach cottage and swam out to bring the girls to shore, and then went to help her husband.
"She had gone out a little too far and I think she was in the current," Pam Blades said of her granddaughter's friend.
Plymouth Assistant Harbormaster Don DiDomenico said Pam Blades had trouble pulling her husband from the water and called to a man in a kayak for help.
The kayaker, who is vacationing at the beach, towed the woman and her husband to shore. Pam Blades called police and then began performing CPR on her husband.
Pam Blades said her husband was a good swimmer and never had any health problems before.
A neighbor who did not wish to be identified said because of the rainy weather on Monday, there weren't many people at the beach.
"If it weren't for the man in the kayak, the situation could have been even worse," the neighbor said.
Plymouth and Duxbury harbormasters, fire and police departments responded to Saquish Beach after receiving a call from State Police at 9:50 a.m.
When the Plymouth harbormaster's boat arrived, two members of the staff went ashore and took over CPR and used a defibrillator.
James Blades was pronounced dead at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth.
Blades was retired. He had spent summers at Saquish for more than 20 years. He was a former member of the Pembroke Conservation Commission.
After he retired, he worked at Edaville Railroad, and volunteered with the New England Brittany Rescue and the New England English Springer Spaniel Rescue.
Saquish is a summer resort area with 240 homes. There are year-round residents but the majority of the people live in cottages for the summer.
The area is part of Plymouth but the only way to get to Saquish is by traveling across four miles of Duxbury Beach.
"It's an extremely remote area. Any kind of medical emergency can turn into a serious medical emergency, because of how remote it is," Duxbury Harbormaster Don Beers said.
Duxbury Fire Chief Kevin Nord said the drive out to Saquish takes about 25 to 30 minutes, even for emergency vehicles.
Kristen Walsh of The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) may be reached at Kwalsh@ledger.com.