LAKE WALLENPAUPACK – For their heroic actions on Feb. 2, Joshua Kalin of Tafton and Christopher Garavaglia of Greeley were recognized recently by Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20th, Rep. Mike Peifer, R-139th and the Tafton Dive Rescue Team.

One of the men whose life was saved by the two was present for the ceremony at Sen. Baker’s district office, and he repeatedly thanked the men for their selflessness and quick-thinking-actions. While he didn’t want to be identified by name, he was glad that Kalin and Garavaglia were getting their due.

“Each time we look at our children and grandchildren, we will be reminded of how Josh and Chris came to our aid that beautiful afternoon on the lake,” he said.

As the men were ice fishing at about 12:30 p.m., two snowmobilers approached an unexpected patch of open water. The husband was able to stop, but his wife wound up in the lake. The man tried to rescue his wife and yelled for help. Kalin and Garavaglia heard the pleas and called 911 and headed to assist the man in rescuing his wife. During the rescue attempt, the husband fell into the lake. Using great ingenuity and materials they had on hand, Garavaglia and Kalin were able to use a snowmobile helmet and several pieces of rope to create a throw line. They were eventually able to pull both individuals from the water. The second snowmobile was used to transport both individuals to shore where emergency responders from Tafton and White Mills had arrived. Both husband and wife were treated and have recovered. But the near-death experience has not been forgotten for the victims or the rescuers.

Sen. Baker thanked the Pike County men for going above and beyond by quickly springing into action and putting their own lives at risk to save strangers. Rep. Peifer noted the good fortune the couple had by having fishermen nearby who not only heard their calls but used their survival skills to aid them.

Members of the Tafton Fire Co. were also on hand to present certificates to the men and to thank them for their valiant actions, noting that a second incident that same day also involved Kalin and Garavaglia calling 911 and running to the aid of four others who had fallen through the ice. The second incident occurred in the same area at approximately 5:30 p.m. In this incident, four individuals on two side-by-side UTV's broke through thin ice at the edge of the large area of open water. They were able to pull themselves from the water and walked to shore where they were met by responding EMS, that were summoned by the 911call the heroes made.

“Most people go their entire lives without an opportunity to save another individual's life. On February 2nd, Mr. Kalin and Mr. Garavaglia were presented with two such opportunities,” said Tafton Dive Team Captain Richard Groo, Jr. “We see accidents all the time, and we know that bad things happen to good people. We also know that there are good people out there who knowingly and selflessly risk their own safety for the sake of others. Josh Kalin and Chris Garavaglia are those people and should be commended for their efforts on Feb. 2.” 

The rescuers said they were just happy to be at the right place to be able to help. While they appreciate the recognition, knowing that the husband and wife will be able to spend time with their children and grandchildren is better than anything else.