Weymouth man and boy he saved from icy pond meet again, 69 years later

Liz Hoffman

On a February afternoon in 1939, Bill Stovold became a hero.

On his way home from Braintree High School, where he was a junior, he heard a boy crying “swim, David, swim!” He ducked under the bridge that crossed over the Monatiquot River and saw a boy struggling in the water.

The boy, just 4 years old, had been sledding behind his uncle’s house when he skidded onto thin ice. The ice cracked, sending him into the water.

Stovold waded in the water to his knees and pulled the boy to safety.

That’s how Bill Stovold and David Hutchinson met.

The story picks up again 69 years later, when the two met for the first time since that day.

After finding a clip from The Patriot Ledger, Hutchinson, a retired Connecticut state trooper, began looking for his rescuer. An Internet search led him to Weymouth, where Stovold, 87, lives with his wife, Jean.

“How do you catch up 70 years’ worth of life in an afternoon?” said Hutchinson, who drove up from his home in Somers, Conn., last week with his wife, Deatra.

The two men tried anyway, sharing stories and pictures from the lives that unfolded after that February evening.

They talked about their families – four marriages, 11 children and 16 grandchildren between the two of them.

They talked about their time in the military; Stovold worked on Liberty ships as a Navy reservist, and Hutchinson was in the Army from 1955 to 1958.

“I’m sitting here telling Bill all these stories about my life, and none of them would have happened without him,” Hutchinson said.

Stovold is as reluctant a hero now as he was in 1939, when he explained his wet clothes to his parents by saying that he had fallen into the river. It wasn’t until a Patriot Ledger reporter knocked on his door that he admitted to the rescue.

“Right place, right time,” Stovold said. “That’s all it was.”

And then there was the story of that “other” rescue.

While on highway patrol on I-84 near Ashford, Conn., some 35 years ago, Hutchinson responded to a call about a boy who had fallen through the ice at a local pond.

With another officer, he shimmied out onto the ice and pulled the boy out of the water.

“Right place, right time,” said Hutchinson, borrowing Stovold’s line and drawing a laugh from his new friend.

The two went back to the Monatiquot river together on Thursday. The river is now just a few inches deep, and houses and trees cover the hill on which Hutchinson and his brothers used to sled.

But both men immediately pointed to the site of the rescue.

“That’s where the story began,” Stovold said.

Liz Hoffman may be reached at