Joseph L. Pytel saved Andrew P. Dominick from drowning, Duryea, Pennsylvania, May 23, 1942. Andrew, 12, schoolboy, fell into the Lackawanna River, which was in flood, and drifted 550 feet in a current of five m.p.h. to water 10 feet deep 30 feet from the bank. Joseph, 16, schoolboy, who was clothed and wore heavy rubber boots, ran 345 feet along the bank, dived, and swam 40 feet to Andrew, who was unconscious. Taking hold of Andrew, he swam and drifted 35 feet at an angle toward the bank. A man then extended a pole to him, and he and Andrew were pulled to the bank. Andrew was revived. 39527-3263
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On most days, Joseph L. Pytel, 70, a U.S. Postal Service employee for nearly 28 years, rode his bicycle the 15 miles each way between his home in Maywood, Ill., and the mail-sorting facility in Carol Stream, Ill. “He just loved to ride his bike,” said Pytel’s son, Paul. “He could drive, but he chose not to drive. He preferred to ride his bike. It was a form of exercise for him.”
Pytel was killed on Aug. 23, 1997, when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver as he was heading home from work. At the time, Pytel was riding his bicycle eastbound on the shoulder along Illinois Highway 64, between Main and Grace streets in Lombard.
Pytel was taken to GlenOaks Medical Center in Glendale Heights, where he was pronounced dead. Paul Pytel said his father worked at the post office in Maywood and then at the postal service’s River Grove, Ill., facility before being transferred to Carol Stream for the last three years of his life.
“We were concerned about him because of the heavy traffic and the way people drive their cars these days. But it was something he wanted to do,” Pytel said.
Pytel said his father was a gardener who loved to paint flowers in the parkway near his home.
(Edited from an obituary in the Chicago Tribune, Aug. 25, 1997.)