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Daring rescue of fisherman from 'drowning machine' takes top honors at Harrisburg fire ceremony

HARRISBURG— Four Harrisburg firefighters who saved a fisherman from drowning in the backwash of the Dock Street Dam in May reeled in the city’s top awards for heroism and bravery.

The awards were among six handed out Tuesday at the Fire Department’s annual awards and promotions ceremony.

Capt. Aldo Morelli and Firefighter Joshua Hull won Awards of Heroism for operating in the backwash of the dam— an area so dangerous its known as a “drowning machine”— to free the 69-year-old fisherman whose boat had overturned.

Firefighters Nathan Martin and Joshua Winters won Awards for Bravery for their quick actions during the daring rescue May 26. They threw a floatation device to the fisherman from above the dam, allowing Morelli and Hull crucial time to reach the victim from below the dam.

Rescuers across the country have died during such missions, even during training for such missions, said Fire Chief Brian Enterline. Because of the danger, and lack of equipment, Harrisburg firefighters hadn’t ever trained along a low-head dam before attempting the rescue.

“We were going to get that guy,” Morelli told PennLive after the successful rescue. “No matter what it took.”

Firefighters Marty Henderson, Brian Riddle and Kyle Paul won the CPR Save Award for performing the life-saving procedure on a man at 17 North Second Street who had collapsed from a heart attack.

Lt. Robert Lohin and Firefighter Robert Brackbill won Merit Awards for rescuing two residents from a second-floor porch. The victims were forced out of their home by smoke and fire. The first firefighters on the scene raised a ladder to rescue the victims from a life-threatening situation, according to fire officials.

Other members of the unit received a Distinguished Unit Citation for their efforts in the successful rescue. They are: Jonathan Morrow, Joshua Hull, Deshawn Dennis and Pablo Passalacqua.

The members of Rescue 1 also won a Distinguished Unit Citation for helping to free a contractor who was pinned from his waist down in a trench in Susquehanna Township.

“Actions taken that day by first responders are credited for saving that man’s life,” the award program said of the effort.

The members are: Batallion Chief Floyd Wise, captains Jason Lloyd and Michael Feldman, Lt. Matthew Kuntz, firefighters Nathan Martin, Joshua Winters, Patrick Fuller, Jeffery Miller, Billy Holtzman, Joshua Hull, Shakur Hakeem El, Jonathan Little, Chief Brian Enterline, Deputy Chief Michael Souder and volunteer firefighters George Lazorchick and Kevin Craver.

In addition to the awards, the department celebrated six promotions: Floyd Wise III to battalion chief; Brian Bastinelli, Glenn Sattizahn, Aldo Morelli and Michael Feldman to captain; and Corey Stone and Jeremy Saul to lieutenant.

Both fire stations will host open house programs from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday night to meet residents, share fire safety information and provide refreshments. The fire stations are located at 1820 North Sixth St and 140 North 16th St.

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