2 Ohiopyle whitewater guides to be recognized by the Carnegie Hero Fund
Two Ohiopyle whitewater rafting guides will be presented Carnegie Hero medals at 2 p.m. Friday for the rescue of two women almost two years ago.
Eric Martin and Patrick Nolan McCarty, both of Ohiopyle, will be presented with the medals by the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund at a ceremony at the Ohiopyle State Park office.
According to the Carnegie Hero Fund, on June 26, 2017, two friends, Arnetta D. Johnson, 55, and Raecyne W. Bechtold, 45, were whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River 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 took single-person kayaks and launched them without safety gear.
Martin owns outdoor tour company Wilderness Voyageur and 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-high waterfall. While Martin towed the first woman downstream toward the nearest bank, McCarty paddled downstream ahead of the raft and used his kayak to steer and slow it, guiding it to the bank where Bechtold reached safety.
Meanwhile, Martin and Johnson were stuck on an exposed rock ledge. McCarty paddled there and secured Johnson with a rope. The three of them then waded toward the bank, where others were to help 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 individuals 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 the awardees or their survivors and include scholarship aid, continuing assistance, and death benefits.
The ceremony is free and open to the public.
More information on the Hero Fund is available at www.carnegiehero.org
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .