Sunday, February 26, 2012
Into the River
Lenny Skutnik, a low-level Washington DC paper pusher, was driving home from work on January 13, 1982, when Air Florida Flight 90 struck the 14th Street Bridge during an ice storm, and quickly began to sink in the freezing Potomac River. Helicopters were using ropes and life preservers to drag the few survivors to shore, but Priscilla Tirado was so disoriented by the cold that she couldn't hold on to the rope. While paramedics and rescue workers followed their training and remained on the shore, Skutnik threw off his coat and boots and lept into the frigid water. By the time he reached Tirado, she was unable to keep herself afloat and her head was underwater; he pulled her out, got her to shore, and saved her life.