Rome woman saves 2 from drowning, shines light on Sylvan Beach hazard


SYLVAN BEACH, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Gail Powell says it all happened so fast- hearing screams for help coming from the canal she immediately jumped in.

"The plea was getting more and more desperate and she kept going under and her eyes were dilated and they could only do so much on the side and they couldn't grab her," said Powell.

A 7-year-old girl feeding the ducks on the pier slipped and fell into the water. Her mother fell in after trying to save her, but neither know how to swim.

"They were being pulled under you could tell she was very panicked, the little girl was panicked and pushing her under more and the mother was trying to get closer and couldn't," said Powell.

While Gail pulled the pair closer to shore, bystanders formed a human chain.

"I grabbed this man's left calf, somebody else grabbed his other calf so we could stretch him out to try to reach her and then when we were able to bring her in other people started to gather and we were able to disentangle the little girl from the mother," said Karen Powell.

A fisherman who witnessed the chaotic scene unfold from the other side was a hero himself earlier this week.

"For a week now there's been seven people falling in. One broken ankle, one broken wrist, I pulled two people out personally," said Wally Osborn who fishes at Sylvan Beach every day.

The slippery surface along one portion of the pier is why so many people have been falling in. Osborn hopes the fencing is extended so it doesn't happen again.

"They run up to feed the ducks and they slip. I'd like to see someone do something before there is a fatality," he said.

Both the mother and daughter are okay, but without the teamwork of good Samaritans the outcome would have been very different.

"Absolute thankfulness because the panic was very apparent. She was in danger, she had bobbed several times, you never know when it's going to be the last bob. So thank God we were able to get to her and get her out," said Karen Powell.

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