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Allegheny Health Network Nurse And Dog Honored For Heroic Rescue Of Man From River

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - An unlikely duo was honored for their heroic actions over this past summer.

An AHN nurse and dog named Tater Tot saved the day and a man's life one day back in July.

On the Allegheny River at the River Forest Yacht Club, 76-year-old Tom Kissel was walking down the dock with his dog when suddenly, a giant wave slammed into the dock, catching Kissel off guard.

As a result of the wave, Kissel was thrown into the water, hitting his head and becoming unconscious on the way down.

The only one that witnessed his fall was Tater Tot.

"I don't remember getting knocked out," Kissel recalled. "I went down in the water, the dog didn't leave me. He was with me, he just swam around me. Mary Jo saw my hand under the water, they came to me, her husband jumped into the water and brought me to the surface."

Mary Jo Lender and her husband were docking their boat when they saw Tater Tot circling Kissel and jumped into action.

"We were covering our boat, but the dog splashing in the water caught our attention," she recalled.

Mary Jo and her husband saw his arm in the water and that's when her husband pulled him from the water.

Mary Jo, a nurse at AHN Allegheny Valley, then began compressions, not stopping until paramedics arrived.

"It felt like forever but probably a good 15-20 minutes," said Mary Jo. "At the moment, I was in full nurse mode. ask my husband, I was kind of giving direction, that just kind of took over in the moment."

Mary Jo and Tom were reunited on Tuesday along with Tom's faithful companion Tater Tot to celebrate his good health.

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