EAST MARLBOROUGH—Six people earned citations Friday for their part in rescuing a father and four children from sinking in a vehicle surrounded by floodwaters on Route 82 in a storm last month. A video of the rescue was captured on cellphone video and made national news.
"We are recognizing the best in humanity at a time when we really need to hear stories like this," said Rep. Christiana Sappey, D-158th, of West Bradford, who issued the citations. "I was moved beyond measure on what took place on that afternoon. It could have ended very differently."
When the Doe Run stream near a section of the township affectionately known a "Blow Horn" to locals flooded, vehicles operated by Dan DiGregorio of Phoenixville and David MacDonald of East Fallowfield stopped on higher ground. Walter Puddifer and Tom Garner, pulled up and asked how to get through, when a surge of water suddenly overtook the roadway. They watched in horror as a car is swept out of sight.
It was then that Burnett H. Wilson III, public works employee in West Marlborough, happened by on a backhoe.
"Call it a miracle, call it an Act of God, call it whatever you want, but Burnett was there with a bucket, and we immediately screamed that we have to jump on this," DiGregorio said. "Burnett lowered his bucket and we hopped in."
They saw a father holding a toddler near a car a short distance away about to be swept away. They formed a human chain as Wilson navigated the heavy machinery and helped each other -- one by one-- into the bucket.
"They hopped in the bucket and the water pressure was very strong," MacDonald said, choking back tears. "I am very happy it all worked out great and everyone is alive."
Hugh Lofting, a West Marlborough public works employee, said it's the third time he has been involved in a water rescue.
"It's just part of the job out in West Marlborough," he said. "We are lucky we have good people with good hearts around us."
Seppey, who was joined by state Rep. Dan Williams -74th, of Coatesville, and state Rep. Danielle Friel-Otten, D-155th, of West Whiteland, said it is fitting the awards were given on Sept. 11, a day when the nation honors its first responders.
"First responders don't do this for recognition, and they don't do it for the accolades," she said. "Water rescue education is so important. It's something we all take for granted. We get flash flood warnings on our phones and we see it passing over the road, but this could be us at any time. This is a great teachable moment for all of us."
Honored with citations were DiGregorio, MacDonald, Wilson, Puddifer, Garner and Lofting.
"It's good to know there are people like you who live among us," Sappey told the honorees.