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Two officers praised

Published June 27. 2012 05:02PM

Two members of the Lehighton Police Department were praised this week by borough officials for their heroic efforts during a tragic incident last Friday in which two people drowned.

Full-time patrolman Bob DeFuso and part-time officer Ryan Kennedy were the first emergency responders at the Lehigh River near the Lehighton-Weissport trestle, where a woman and her grandson drowned.

Both officers, in full uniform, went into the river and along with some other individuals pulled the unconscious victims from the water. They then proceeded with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Chief of Police Neal Ebbert said both officers will be receiving a letter of commendation.

Neither DeFuso nor Kennedy were present at the meeting of Lehighton Borough Council, where their rescue efforts were described.

"They went into the river and got the victims out of the water," he said. "I know it's part of our job and part of our duty."

He told the council that both men performed CPR.

Mayor Donald Rehrig also commented on the work at the rescue scene by the officers.

The drowning happened at about 3:30 p.m. on Friday. The deceased are Wanda Wentz, 49, of Lehighton, and Nolan Neville Garret Ritchie, 7, of Coaldale.

Lehighton Fire Chief Gary Frable also told the council how the police officers arrived quickly at the scene and began rescue efforts.

"It's always good to work with the police department in this town," Frable said, adding that the officers did a good job.

Several council members extended praise to DeFuso and Kennedy.

In other police matters:

• Borough manager Nicole Beckett said dedication of the new police station, named after the late mayor and councilman Wilbur Bauchspies, will occur on July 13.

• The Lehighton Downtown Initiative Committee has donated $2,500 for monitoring cameras for the borough park. Chief Ebbert said the cameras may be mounted on the municipal building and will be able to capture most of the park.

• Mayor Rehrig issued a reminder that Lehighton's Crime Watch group will meet at 6:30 p.m. today at the Lehighton Area High School. Police officer Matt Ahner will speak about gang activity in the local area.

• The police chief had presented the council with a list of intersections which have blind spots for motorists, some of the problems caused by trees and overgrown vegetation. The council will review the list.

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