Ohiopyle rafting guides earn Carnegie Medals for heroics in saving women’s lives
Two Ohiopyle whitewater rafting guides received Carnegie Medals on Friday for rescuing two women from the Youghiogheny River in 2017.
Eric Martin and Patrick Nolan McCarty, both of Ohiopyle, were awarded medals by the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission at a ceremony at the Ohiopyle State Park office.
According to the Carnegie Hero Fund, on June 26, 2017, friends Arnetta D. Johnson, 55, and Raecyne W. Bechtold, 45, were whitewater rafting on the Yough when their raft overturned, flowed past the take-out point and became stuck at a bridge pier in the middle of the swift-flowing and swollen river.
Partially submerged, Johnson clutched the raft as Bechtold lay on top of it. Martin, 47, and McCarty, 29, each launched into the river in kayaks. Neither wore safety gear.
Martin owns outdoor tour company Wilderness Voyageur. McCarty is its executive director.
As Martin arrived at the pier, Johnson grabbed his kayak and the raft dislodged and floated free with Bechtold, toward a 20-foot waterfall. While Martin towed the first woman downstream to the bank, McCarty paddled downstream ahead of the raft and used his kayak to steer and slow it, guiding it to the bank where Bechtold was safe.
Meanwhile, Martin and Johnson were stuck on an exposed rock ledge. McCarty paddled over and secured Johnson with a rope. The three waded toward the bank, where others helped remove Johnson from the water, according to the Hero Fund.
Martin and McCarty were the Hero Fund’s 10,061st and 10,062nd heroes, respectively. The awards were announced in December.
The Hero Fund, established by Andrew Carnegie in 1904, has awarded the Carnegie Medal to 10,081 people in recognition of their outstanding heroism, defined by the commission as acts of lifesaving done at extraordinary risk to the rescuer. Grants totaling more than $40 million have been given to awardees or their survivors and include scholarship aid, continuing assistance and death benefits.
More information on the Hero Fund is available at www.carnegiehero.org.