On June 26, 2017, whitewater rafting guides Eric Martin and Patrick Nolan McCarty saved Arnetta D. Johnson, 55, from drowning in the Youghiogheny River near Ohiopyle, Pa. McCarty also saved Raecyne W. Bechtold, 45. Friends Johnson and Bechtold were whitewater rafting when their raft overturned, flowed past the take-out point, and became stuck at a bridge pier in the middle of the swift-flowing and swollen river. Partially submerged, Johnson clutched the raft as Bechtold lay on top of it. Martin, 47, whitewater rafting business operator, and McCarty, 29, whitewater rafting business executive director, each obtained single-person kayaks and launched them without safety gear. As Martin arrived at the pier, Johnson grasped onto his kayak, and the raft dislodged and floated free with Bechtold, toward a 20-foot-high waterfall. While Martin towed Johnson downstream toward the nearest bank, McCarty paddled downstream ahead of the raft and used his kayak to steer and slow the raft, guiding it to the bank where Bechtold reached safety. Meanwhile, Martin and Johnson were stuck on an exposed rock ledge. McCarty paddled there and secured Johnson with a rope. The three of them then waded toward the bank, where others helped remove Johnson from the water.

89909-10061/89908-10062


Related articles:


Back to awardees
News release PDF