Niagara Falls pair who saved drowning man in Chippawa Creek help shape new policy

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Published July 19, 2021 at 3:56 pm

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The quick thinking of two Niagara Falls residents not only saved a man from drowning in the Chippewa Creek, they also helped reshape city policy.

The residents, Kellie Crossley and Adam Wlodarczyk, appeared through a video call at the July 13 Council Meeting and were lauded for their heroics at the Chippewa portion of the Welland River, which has unusually strong currents in some areas.

With the pair on screen, Mayor Jim Diodati called it “a classic example of Niagara Falls people doing the right thing.”

However, Diodati added, just a week after the pair’s June 20 rescue, a 17-year-old boy drowned in the same area.

“Incidents like this tell us the power of the water, that we have to have respect for the water (as well as) the currents in that water,” he noted.

After holding up Niagara Falls gift bags the city was giving the pair, Diodati turned it over to Councillor Mike Strange, who has known Crossley, a member of the Downtown Niagara Falls BIA, for years.

Thanking them for their quick thinking in a critical situation, Strange applauded Crossley for her longtime charity work in the area and noted of Wlodarczyk, “I don’t know Adam but you’re a strong swimmer I imagine.”

However, the new policies to city attendants came to light quickly after that. When Crossley briefly thanked the council and Wlodarczyk did likewise, the young man was pressed by council to rehash the events.

He explained that after being alerted to the situation by Crossley’s calls, he noticed “this gentleman bouncing up and down in the water so I ran through the grass, through the parking lot (when into the river) and grabbed the man (pulling him from the water.)”

He added that at that point, a parking lot attendant asked him if he should call 911. “That should have been his first response instead of (waiting until) I took the gentleman out of the water.”

As it turned out, Crossley had been pressing councillors to implement some water safety measures in that area for weeks prior to the incident.

“That is what we’re saying,” Crossley told the councillors. “There’s no strategic plan in place for when (these near-tragic events) happen.”

There is now. Diodati told the pair that all parking lot attendants in the area are now being instructed to instantly call 911 in situations like this, as well as learn additional safety training.

Strange added that “With Kellie’s awareness of what we need down there, we’re putting up proper signage… so if we can stop these things from happening because of the awareness these two brought to council, (we will.)”

Concluded Diodati: “Because of that incident what we’re going to be doing now (will help it become) safer for the next situation. The main thing is we learn from each one of these situations.”

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