Article reprinted with permission from John Eberth, communications specialist for Senator George Borrello
The quick thinking and decisive actions by five Alfred State College students that helped save a Wellsville man and his dog from the Genesee River were recognized today by Senator George Borrello (57th District) and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio (148th District) who visited the campus to meet the young men and thank them for their efforts.
Three of the five students involved, Owen Brewster, Jack Derby and Alex Tanevski, were on hand for the presentation. David Snyder and Kameron Mills, who also assisted in the efforts, have graduated and were not in attendance.
On February 12, 64-year-old Louis Gordnier and his beagle, Takota, fell into the Genesee River while taking a walk. Takota had run out onto the thin ice and fell through. Gordnier jumped into the water to rescue his dog, but after being partially submerged in the freezing water, he didn’t have the strength to climb from the river bank. His soaked cell phone didn’t work so he began yelling for help.
The five Alfred State College students attending classes at the School of Applied Technology in Wellsville heard his cries for help. After alerting university police and calling 911, they jumped a fence between the campus and the river and began scouring the area, looking for the man in distress. They searched for half an hour before finding Mr. Gordnier in the frigid river, about a mile and a half away from where they started, arriving at the scene about the same time as first responders. Mr. Gordnier was flown by Mercy Flight to a Rochester hospital where he was treated for hypothermia and exposure. Takota was treated at the Wellsville Veterinary Hospital. Both have since recovered.
Senator Borrello and Assemblyman Giglio commended the young men for their efforts and presented proclamations and citations for going above and beyond. Also on hand for the presentations were Alfred State College President, Dr. Skip Sullivan, and Dean of the College, Jeffrey Stevens.
“At a time when our faith in humanity is often challenged, the efforts of these young men are a reminder that there are still compassionate and extraordinary people in our midst, who will go above and beyond in an instant to help someone in distress,” said Senator Borrello. “Many people would have called 911 and resumed their own activities. But these students didn’t stop there. They scaled a fence and helped police search the rugged area along the river for Louis Gordnier and his beloved dog and did not stop until they found him. They are inspiring and a credit to their families and communities.”
“It is a privilege to recognize these outstanding young people for their quick actions earlier this year. Because they paid close attention to their surroundings, our first responders were able to do their jobs and lives were saved. These young men are a perfect example of how often citizens play a key role in protecting each other, and in how much good everyone can do every day. These students acted quickly and did the right thing by calling 911 and activating emergency services then went further by assisting in the search for a person in distress, along with his dog. Their dedication to helping others has not gone unnoticed, and we are grateful to have them as part of our community while they study at Alfred State,” said Assemblyman Giglio.
Alfred State President Dr. Skip Sullivan said: “We are extremely proud of our students for the role they played in the rescue. Their quick thinking and swift action helped save the lives of Mr. Gordnier and his dog and we are delighted to honor these students today.”
Jeffrey Stevens, Dean of the School of Applied Technology, said: “The event recognizing the Alfred State student heroes was both heartwarming and honoring. All our professors strive to build a strong sense of citizenship and a mindset of civic engagement within every graduate. Today represented an educator’s dream come true because we were present to witness our students seeing first-hand how their efforts can and do change lives.”