ZOAR VALLEY, N.Y. (WIVB) — In a way, a man’s death last night helped save a woman’s life on Tuesday.
Gowanda fire officials say a water raft used to recover a man’s body in Cattaragus Creek in Perrysburg was already on hand and in position when a call came in about a woman who was being swept away in the fast-moving current.
The man, who fell into the creek from above, was pronounced dead, but due to the equipment nearby, a short time later first responders saved a woman who was swept into the same creek in Zoar Valley nearby. The water raft was already inflated and crews were easily assembled.
Around 11 a.m. on Tuesday 35-year-old Kelly Ziolkowski was hiking with a friend. She reportedly attempted to cross the creek in a popular spot down in the gorge. Officials say Ziolkowski attempted to cross where the water was shallow. However, there are deep pockets and slippery shale rocks that hikers can’t see.
Fire officials say Ziolkowski fell in and the current swept her away.
Officials and locals say the water was higher than normal after morning storms. A woman living nearby says the water is normally clear and beautiful but after a heavy rain it’s muddy.
Ziolkowski floated or swam about 900 feet in the rushing waters. Rescue teams eventually pulled Ziolkowski out of the water without injuries right in the Gowanda Fire Chief’s back yard.
A fire official says Ziolkowski had some kind of bag with her that helped her stay afloat.