An office assistant with the U.S. Government. Surprisingly, the origin of the term "Lenny Skutnik."
On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 struck the 14th Street Bridge, crushing several vehicles on its way into the icy Potomac River.
Many people, including Lenny, exited their cars to watch the disaster unfold. Emergency services couldn't get to the crash site due to an early rush hour and an impending storm. As a result, only a few rescuers arrived on the scene, and they weren't properly equipped for immersion in the frigid river. Inflatable boats were useless against the ice chunks floating around the downed plane. Eventually a helicopter arrived to fish the survivors out, but this took time and the frigid river was taking its toll.
When one of the crash victims, Priscilla Tirado, was given the tow line, she was too weak to hold onto it. Firefighters, soldiers and paramedics couldn't do anything but sit back and watch as she floundered about in the icy water, quickly approaching death. That's when some guy in the crowd got a brilliant idea: He'd just jump in the river (the one that was deemed too dangerous for professional rescue crews in rafts) and swim right the hell over there.
OK, so maybe "brilliant" isn't the right word, but our spell-checker keeps asking us to correct "humungoballs," so it'll have to do.
Stripping down to a short sleeved shirt, Lenny Skutnik dove into the Potomac and swam like a maniac for the drowning woman. Against freezing water, frigid air and the river current, Lenny succeeded in bringing Priscilla Tirado to shore, where she received the medical attention that saved her life.
And hey, for once the hero did not go overlooked: For his bravery Lenny had a day named after him, received several awards (among them the Carnegie Hero Fund Medal), and he was even included in the State of Union Address that Ronald Reagan gave a few weeks later. Afterward, any hero included in the State of the Union became known as a "Lenny Skutnik." What did he do with all these well-deserved rewards? Kept his job as a federal employee.
Aquaman is more of a "hobby" than a "job" for Lenny, anyway.
More stuff by Paul at http://iwritewords.ca
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