Louis R. Zabinski saved Albert E. McCool from drowning, East Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, April 16, 1959. While playing along the bank of the Kiskiminetas River, Albert, 9, climbed into a canoe, which then was pushed into the water by two other young boys and carried downstream by the swift current. Albert, who could not swim, shouted for help and, becoming frightened, jumped from the craft into water nine feet deep 150 feet from the bank. He was submerged briefly twice as he struggled to stay afloat. Zabinski, 27, grinder, ran 150 feet to the river. Entering the water fully clothed except for his shoes, Zabinski swam 210 feet to Albert, who had submerged briefly again and was inert. Zabinski, who had swallowed some water, already was tired from swimming across the swift current, and his legs were becoming numb from the cold water. He secured a chinhold on Albert and towed him 125 feet toward the bank, growing increasingly tired as he swam across the current with difficulty. Securing footing in water five feet deep, Zabinski placed Albert over his shoulder and waded 35 feet to the bank, where Albert was revived. 44699-426444699-4264
Louis “Lou” R. Zabinski, lifelong resident of East Vandergrift, passed away Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, at Allegheny Valley Hospital, Natrona Heights. He left this life peacefully surrounded by family. Born Oct. 3, 1932, in East Vandergrift, he was the youngest son of the late Jacob and Mary (Gajowska) Zabinski. Lou was a 1950 graduate of Vandergrift High School. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Lou served during peacetime in the 1950’s. He worked for PPG, NUMEC and Babcock and Wilcox. Lou received the Carnegie Medal for Heroism in 1959 when he saved a young boy from drowning in the Kiskiminetas River. Lou volunteered with the East Vandergrift Volunteer Fire Company. He was an active member of the Polish National Alliance 791, Slovak Club and Lithuanian Club in East Vandergrift. He was also a member of VFW Post 566 and American Legion Post 114 in Vandergrift. Lou was a member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in East Vandergrift. Lou loved listening to polka music and went to many polka festivals. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and was an avid gardener, giving away vegetables and canned goods to friends and family. Lou also enjoyed travel. A special trip for him was to Poland in 2001, touring the country and visiting cousins. Lou leaves behind his love, his wife of 66 years, Virginia “Ginny” (Golla) Zabinski. He is also survived by his children, Debra (Laura Reich) Zabinski, of Santa Fe, N.M., Donna Valdiserri, of Baldwin, Daniel Zabinski, of East Vandergrift, and Richard Zabinski, of Mars; four grandchildren, Adam Crossan, Meg (Chris) Markley, Logan Zabinski and Rowan Zabinski; and nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, Lou was preceded in death by his sisters, Anna Mazia and Catherine Mary Vitkay; his brothers, Andrew, William, Albert and Henry Zabinski; nephews, Jacob “Jack” Zabinski, Albert “Albie” Zabinski Jr. and Michael Vitkay; and son-in-law, John (Donna) Valdiserri.