Teenager who saved life humble about heroics
“It was as if someone was pushing me into the water. I saw her. Her hands were up in the air and she was screaming for help. I didn’t even think about it. I just jumped in and started swimming,” Nickolette Breauchy said as she talked about her actions that saved the life of a woman.
The 17-year-old Mill Hall resident credits God with keeping her calm and giving her the strength and fortitude to keep swimming in the strong current and reaching Helen Solt, as the woman bobbed up and down in the middle of the river.
“I was getting very tired but I just kept going. I kept thinking that I had to get to her. I was talking to her, she knew I was coming and I couldn’t turn back. I didn’t even know if I’d make it back, but I had faith that God would help me,” Breauchy continued, as she remembered those anxious moments.
She insists that she is no hero, but others who were there know better.
“If not for Nickolette, Helen would not have survived,” Lock Haven City Police Officer Steve Litzelman said.
Two men in a canoe helped Breauchy get Helen to safety.
“The current was very strong. Breauchy and those two men in a canoe are the reason why we did not have a third drowning victim,” Litzelman continued.
Two others floating on rafts in the river with Helen – Alecia Frey and Roland Richmond – were not as fortunate. They both drowned Thursday afternoon when the rafts the three were floating on were swept over the dam at Grant Street.
Breauchy was at a swimming party with friends at a Water Street home when they heard the sirens just about 2 p.m. Thursday and ran barefoot to the top of the dike-levee to see what was going on.
The first thing she saw was Litzelman stripping off his gun and other heavy equipment and preparing to jump into the river. Before he could, Breauchy was in the water swimming toward Solt.
Litzelman and two of Breauchy’s friends, Logan Neff and A.J. Cronmiller, started running down the river bank where Litzelman entered the water and began swimming against the current toward the women.
Breauchy said Helen was floating on her back, coughing up water and yelling for help.
“I told her to come to my voice. I kept talking to her. She was so exhausted. When I reached her I held her head above water with one arm and used the other arm to swim and keep myself above water. I kept looking at the police officer. He was getting closer to us… and then, all of a sudden there was this boat … a canoe… behind us.
“There were two men in the canoe. The police officer grabbed onto one side of the canoe and I grabbed the other and they paddled us to shore,” Breauchy said.
Litzelman said he was glad to see the guys in the canoe.
“They were paddling as hard as they could … they came from the Woodward Township side of the river,” he said. “They wouldn’t give us their names, and after we reached shore, they quickly got back into the canoe and went back out searching for the other two. I’d like to know who they are… I’d like to thank them for getting all three of us out of there.”
Litzelman said he and Breauchy were very tired and the current was very fast. He said he can’t help but wonder what might have happened if not for those two men.
Breauchy’s mother, Tina, had some anxious moments when she learned about what he daughter had done.
“As a parent, I’m astounded. I’m so proud she did what she did. As a mother, I am horrified. As a Christian, I know that God put her in that position to take the action she did. She had faith to put her life in God’s hands… I’m really impressed and very proud of her,” Tina said, tears welling in her eyes as she looked at her daughter.
Breauchy noted she is a wrestler at Central Mountain High School and that training over the past years has gotten her body into shape, obviously helping her reach Solt.
“Stay strong, stay focused… mental conditioning. Those are the things we practice and I saved a life because of it,” Breauchy said.
A senior this year, she said she wants to go to wrestle in college.
“I want to meet Sara McMann,” she said with a huge smile. Sara McMann is a Lock Haven native and LHU graduate who also is an Olympic champion wrestler.
No matter what life holds for Breauchy, one thing’s for sure, she said.
“God was with her all the way.”