HEROES OF NIAGARA
The Niagara Falls in Upstate New York is one of the wonders of nature that generations of Americans have viewed with awe. The waters of the Niagara River are in turmoil as they
race to the edge of the falls and cascade in a thundering roar over the edge.
The Niagara Reservation State Park provides a fantastic view of the falls.
The New York State Parks Police patrol the Park. Usually, the duty is routine. However, one night back in January 1998 was far from routine.
Park Police Officer Phil Paonessa will never forget that night. At about 3:15
AM, Park Police Officer Bill Scribner spotted An unoccupied car. When he was checking the vehicle, he noticed what turned out to be a suicide note inside. The note was written in large
letters. He called for assistance and Officer Paonessa and Park Police Officer Matt Seelbach joined him in a search of the area.
Seelbach spotted a figure in the park and then saw what appeared to be a woman walk right into the turbulent waters of the river. When the
three officers got to the edge of the river, she was already in deep water and dangerously close to the falls. Paonessa shouted to her and kept her
attention as the two other officers formed a human chain. Scribner acted as the anchor on the edge and held Seelbach by the belt. Seelbach held
Paonessa in the same way as Phil entered the water to get to the woman.
Officer Scribner later told news reporters from the Niagara Gazette:
"We were so close to the brink, I was looking right down the falls"
Paonessa was able to convince the woman to reach out to him and the three officers were able to pull her to safety.
The rescue was the subject of an editorial by the Niagara Gazette.
©Copyright l999 Edward D. Reuss
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