TribLIVE

| Neighborhoods


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Seneca Valley teacher finds God after rescue from creek

Submitted | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Henry Stefanacci, a Seneca Valley Middle School special education teacher, was injured March 3, 2013, when his car went off the road and upsidedown into Connoquenessing Creek. He was rescued and is recuperating.

Daily Photo Galleries

Cranberry Photo Galleries

Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
 

Henry “Leo” Stefanacci counted himself a nonbeliever until he had to be rescued this month from his overturned car in the icy waters of Connoquenessing Creek.

“There is a God; that's why I'm alive,” Stefanacci, 48, of Zelienople said on Thursday. “God and the power of prayer.”

The special education teacher at Seneca Valley Middle School is recovering from injuries he suffered on March 3 as his car slid off Halstead Boulevard in Zelienople.

Four teenagers from the Zelienople area spotted the wreckage in the dark and called 911.

Firefighters pulled Stefanacci from the water. He said he may have been in the water for as long as 40 minutes and believes he had just minutes left when rescuers arrived.

“They're heroes,” Stefanacci said of the teens and firefighters. “I owe my life to them.”

Stefanacci said he said goodbye to his family, including his wife, Kelly, 45, and daughters Gianna, 12, and Carmen, 9, when he found he could not escape.

“It was the saddest moment of my life,” he said.

Stefanacci awoke after four days in critical care in UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, where medical staff treated him for a concussion, pneumonia, hypothermia and other injuries.

He lost 20 pounds and now uses a cane at times. He works with a therapist to regain his speech, which is soft and raspy because of injuries and treatments. He said doctors expect a full recovery in six months to a year.

Stefanacci was overwhelmed with cards, gifts and other tokens from people wishing him a quick recovery.

“You don't realize how many people love you until you take a step away,” he said.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

 

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Roundup: Wealth gap largest on record, Pew study shows; McDonald’s in Japan limits orders of fries; more
  2. Starkey: Pederson had to go at Pitt
  3. Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin
  4. West Mifflin soccer fields nearly done, but play will be delayed
  5. West Mifflin man charged with risking catastrophe
  6. Philly DA says no affidavits claimed by AG Kane in bribery case existed
  7. Pederson’s 2nd tenure as the athletic director at Pitt comes to abrupt end
  8. Steelers notebook: Brown leads WRs in Pro Bowl voting, Bell 2nd at RB
  9. Son charged in dismemberment death of mother, stepfather in Penn Hills
  10. Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
  11. Connellsville Area High School Chamber Ensemble awaiting word on sing-off
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.