by Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer, Grand Island Fire Co.
At 11:22 a.m. on Wednesday, March 7, Grand Island Fire Co. rescue personnel responded to a report of a person in the water in the vicinity of 2196 West Oakfield Road, which is located between Beaver Island State Park and Bush Road.
Guyane Schiffhauer was looking out her window when she noticed something bobbing up and down in the Niagara River, ran to get her binoculars, identified a person in distress, and immediately called 911 for emergency assistance.
The GIFC Marine Unit was activated while other rescuers proceeded directly to the scene.
When GIFC Fire Police Capt. Don Portik arrived on location within minutes, he found 34-year-old Ben Edelin of Buffalo clinging to a dock and assisted him to shore. Ten minutes earlier, Edelin reportedly decided to go for a swim in the water estimated to be 34 degrees, and left his belongings in the state park. He was treated by GIFC medics for hypothermia and minor cuts and bruises and transported to Erie County Medical Center for precautionary follow-up.
Fire officials believe that if Edelin had remained in the water another 10 minutes or so, there could have been fatal consequences.
All GIFC units returned to service at 11:58 a.m., according to Koch.