The Patriots fan and father of two who died after being sucker-punched by another fan during New England’s game against the Miami Dolphins over the weekend selflessly saved the life of a young girl on a New Hampshire beach years before.
According to a local news report from the time, Dale Mooney, 53, put his own life in danger in July 2009 when he spotted the child caught between the rocks near a jetty on Hampton Beach and rushed to save her.
“The waves were slamming over her and she couldn’t even stay on her feet,” Mooney said of the near-tragic incident.
“She kept falling in between the rocks, desperately trying to keep her head above water.”
According to the outlet, the girl was attempting to retrieve her boogie board when she became entangled among the rocks as the tide rose and wind gusts reached 30 mph.
Mooney, who was 39 at the time, got closer to the girl and soon found himself surrounded by unrelenting surf and waves.
“We were both pretty scared by that point,” he admitted.
But he couldn’t give up on the child, who was a complete stranger to him.
“I couldn’t turn back once I made eye contact with her.” As the two or three big waves came up, I told her, ‘Hold your breath, hold your breath.’ “And then the wave would hit us,” Mooney explained.
“Then we’d fight to get up, and she’d try to get up.” “She was sliding and slipping.”
Mooney, who stood 6-foot-3, instructed the girl to jump onto his shoulders during a brief respite from the crashing waves.
“We went for it, and then got hit by the next two or three rounds trying to get back,” he explained.
Mooney was eventually able to make it back to shore with the young girl in tow.
Beachgoers who witnessed the daring rescue applauded him, and one stranger shook his hand, he said.
“As I walked out, a few people approached me and said, ‘That was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen,’ and such. “I felt pretty good about it,” he explained.
Mooney never found out what the child’s name was, but she thanked him for getting her to safety before running over to family members.
The rescue left the New Hampshire father with bruised ribs, cut shins, and swollen knees, and he was “very sore” the next day.
He was at the beach with his son when he noticed the young girl struggling and expressed his hope that he could learn from the experience.
“We’ve, of course, told him not to be foolish and put yourself in dangerous situations. Or at least his mom has,” he told the outlet with a laugh.
“Don’t be a hero like your dad because you could get in dangerous situations.”
Mooney was in a dangerous situation 14 years later that didn’t end well when he got into an altercation with Miami Dolphins fans during Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium.
A witness in the stands told MassLive that he saw Mooney, who was at the game with three friends, get into a physical altercation with other men before being slugged by a Dolphins fan.
“The Dolphins fan walks over and clearly punches him in the face,” Nashua, New Hampshire resident Joey Kilmartin told the local outlet.
“[He] gets knocked out, and you can tell right away that he’s not OK.”
Mooney was never able to regain consciousness. EMTs administered CPR and rushed him to Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, where he died shortly before midnight.
According to his wife Lisa, his death has left her feeling numb and confused.
“I’d like to know what happened.” “What happened?” she asked WCVB.
“I don’t understand why people have to go to such lengths.” Why can’t it just be enjoyable? It’s only supposed to be a fun family event.”
According to his friends at the game, her husband — a season ticket holder for 30 years — and his friends were taunted by other fans prior to the physical exchange.
“It takes a lot to get him mad. He has the patience of a saint. I don’t know what happened,” Lisa said.
No charges have been filed, and Mooney’s official autopsy results are pending.