Homeless Hero Saves Woman

Man rescues woman floating in canal By Andrew Tran South Florida Sun-Sentinel December 31, 2007
When John Beauchamp saw a woman’s back in a canal off Interstate 595 Sunday morning, he thought, “Another dead person floating in the canal.” But then he saw her turn. The woman’s face broke above the water and sank back below. She was struggling for air. So Beauchamp, 61, who lives in a homeless shelter and was hawking The Miami Herald in the middle of Pine Island Road in Davie, sprang into action to rescue a woman in distress.
The woman, Mauvlyn Rose Lewin, 49, of Lauderhill, had been reported missing after wandering away from her family Saturday afternoon. She suffers from dementia. “Hold on, I’m coming in to get you,” Beauchamp called out to her as he broke into a run. “Hold on, hold on, hold on.” And she did. “That was very heroic of him,” Jorge Gonzalez, battalion chief for Davie Fire-Rescue, said later Sunday. “It could have made the difference between life and death for her.”
Doctors diagnosed Mauvlyn Lewin with dementia, a group of symptoms caused by brain disorders, seven years ago, her husband Delroy Lewin said. Eventually, she stopped responding, talking, or recognizing where she was or who she was with. The whole family, including two daughters, 10 and 8, went shopping at the Broward Mall on Saturday afternoon. At some point Mauvlyn Lewin walked away. “I was angry that I let her go,” her husband said Sunday. “Normally, I hold her hand. What was I thinking?” The past few years had been tough, he said, but not as tough as Saturday night and Sunday morning.
He stayed up until 5:30 a.m. driving around Plantation near the mall, looking for his wife. A Plantation officer found him about 8 a.m. and told him she was safe. He raced to the hospital. When Delroy Lewin saw paramedics bring his wife inside, pale, soaked and shivering. “I was overwhelmed,” he said. “I cried like a baby.” Earlier Sunday, a man looking for a cell phone to call 911 alerted Beauchamp to the woman in the canal. Beauchamp had thought about life-guarding as a teenager in Detroit.
He stripped to his underwear and stepped into the water toward the woman, the ground sloping away from him until he was forced to swim out to her. He grasped her cold hand, then her arm, and dragged her to shore. By then, paramedics had arrived. They put the woman on a stretcher and took her to Westside, where she was listed in stable condition.
Beauchamp, a resident of the Homeless Voice Homeless Shelter in Hollywood, said he did what anyone in his position would have done. “I wasn’t even thinking,” he said. “She just needed help and I was there.”