It only took minutes for firefighters to rescue a woman stranded in the water off Chelsea, Massachusetts, Thursday morning, but she may have been there for hours.
A 911 call came in around 7 a.m. after someone heard crying coming from about 50 to 100 feet from the Chelsea shoreline.
The woman was alone and clinging to a pillar under the Meridian Street bridge in the water where Boston Harbor meets the Chelsea Creek. As firefighters arrived, a police officer tossed a life ring into the water that the woman could hold onto.
"Firefighters donned survival suits en route," said Chelsea fire Chief Leonard Albanese. "They were able to get in the water on a tethered line.
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Exclusive images show the dramatic rescue. One of the firefighters made his way to the woman and was able to haul her in.
The 23-year-old, who is homeless, told investigators she'd gotten into an argument with her ex-boyfriend around 1 a.m., according to Chelsea police Capt. David Batchelor. The man allegedly threw her purse in the water, and then she jumped in to try and retrieve it.
It was about a 30-foot drop from the bridge, also known as the Andrew P. McArdle Memorial Bridge, and the woman needed medical attention.
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"We suspect hypothermia injuries but she was conscious and alert when she left," Albanese said.
Police are investigating. By what the woman told officers, she'd been in the frigid water for six hours. The woman may have been confused and perhaps only in the water for up to 60 minutes, but investigators are not sure.
The woman would not identify the man she had been arguing with, police said.