Ralph E. Lewis, 50, gas distribution foreman, helped to save Thomas R. Pasternak, 13, schoolboy, from drowning, New Hartford, New York, January 22, 1959. While attempting to cross a flooded creek 60 feet wide by moving hand-over-hand along the upper cables of an abandoned suspension bridge, Thomas reached midstream where, with his body submerged to the waist in extremely cold water eight feet deep, he found he could move no farther in the strong current. Thomas called for help, and Lewis and a crew of workmen nearby were attracted. None of the men was a good swimmer. Fully clothed, Lewis waded 12 feet into the creek, stepped into deep water, and was submerged briefly. The current carried him against one of the submerged lower cables of the bridge, and he clung to it. With his legs drawn almost horizontally by the force of the current, he made his way with effort along the cable to near Thomas. Following directions from Lewis, Thomas dropped into the water and then grasped the lower cable as the current carried him against it. Lewis, his limbs beginning to numb, took hold of Thomas and with difficulty pulled him along the cable as he moved ten feet toward the bank. Lewis then experienced acute exhaustion. By that time two other men had walked along the lower cable while holding to an upper one and were 15 feet from the bank. The first man then held to an upper cable and took hold of Lewis. The second man placed one arm around the man holding Lewis, who still maintained his hold on Thomas. Together the group then moved along the cable to the bank.
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