James W. Pittman saved Donald R. Fetzer from drowning, Clearfield, Pennsylvania, June 15, 1960. When his arms became tired after moving 150 feet hand over hand along an undergirder of a bridge, Donald, 14, schoolboy, dropped into deep water in the rain-swollen West Branch of the Susquehanna River. Unable to swim across the current, he was carried downstream and submerged intermittently. Pittman, 38, laborer, dived fully clad into the river and swam 150 feet to Donald. Securing a chin hold, Pittman began towing Donald toward the bank but, impeded by his clothing, was diverted from a direct course by the current. Pittman towed Donald 330 feet to 20 feet from the bank, where the water was seven feet deep. He trod water to regain his wind; and both he and Donald were submerged briefly. Donald then began to struggle and grasped Pittman’s am with both hands. After calming Donald, Pittman attempted to tow him but was so tired that he made little progress. From the bank a man extended a ladder to Pittman, who grasped it. Still holding Donald, who by then was inert, Pittman was drawn to the bank. Donald was revived and recovered.
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James W. Pittman, 86 of Clearfield, Pa., died on Jan. 21, 2009. He was born on Oct. 13, 1922, in Clymer, Pa., the son of Harry and Catherine (McDermott) Pittman.
Pittman was retired from the Webb Cadillac in Jenkintown, Pa., after 30 years of service. He worked with Civilian Conservation Corps before World War II and served in the infantry of the U.S. Army in the European Theatre and in Hawaii. He married his wife, Phyllis J. (Shaw) Pittman, on Dec. 23, 1949.
Pittman was a member of the Pine Grove Bethel Presbyterian Church and a member of the John Lewis Shade American Legion Post 6. He also served as a commander with the American Legion.
He was buried at the Crown Crest Memorial Park in Clearfield.
(Edited from an obituary published in The Clearfield Progress in Clearfield via findagrave.com.)