Firefighters save woman, dog from drowning in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 February 2016 at 8:03 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers – Holley firefighters are pictured with Alexandria Disque, second from left, and a dog Sadie, as well as Sadie’s owner Cassie Wolfanger, left. Disque and Sadie were rescued this afternoon after being swept in a tunnel on Sandy Creek that goes under the Erie Canal. The firefighters were on a boat that went into the dark tunnel. Pictured from left in back include Fran Gaylord, Harris Reed and Justin McMillon.

HOLLEY – A woman and a dog were both rescued from a near drowning today after they were swept into a dark tunnel that went under the Erie Canal.

Alexandria Disque, 23, was at the Holley Waterfalls with her friend Cassie Wolfanger. They both play on the women’s rugby team at Brockport State College. They were at the waterfalls with Cassie’s dog, Sadie.

The dog, an English yellow lab, fell into Sandy Creek and was soon swept away on the fast-moving current. Disque dove in and tried to save the dog.

Soon both went through a culvert that takes Sandy Creek under the canal. The concrete tunnel is dark.

Wolfanger called 911 when Disque and Sadie vanished.

Today is the Squirrel Slam hunting contest, a fund-raising event for the Holley Fire Department. Many firefighters were at the Holley Fire Hall and they were quickly on the scene at the base of the waterfalls.

Firefighters deployed a rescue boat and Fran Gaylord, Justin McMillon and Harris Reed went into the culvert to find Disque and Sadie.

Photos courtesy of Kurt Wannenwetsch

Firefighters descended near the Holley Waterfalls where Sandy Creek heads under the Erie Canal to find Disque and Sadie. The firefighters are in a line holding a rope as the boat goes into the culvert.

A rope was tied to the boat as firefighters passed into the tunnel. It was hard to see once they entered the tunnel, Gaylord said.

They went about 500 feet down before they found Disque. She found a crack in the concrete and was barely hanging on. She had nearly lost all motor skill function at that point because she was freezing after about a half-hour in the water.

Reed was at the back of the boat and he pulled Disque onto the boat. She was taken by Monroe Ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Holley firefigters bring Alexandria Disque, right, safely to shore after getting her out of the culvert tunnel. Disque’s friend Cassie Wolfanger, left, is relieved to see Disque.

The firefighters went back into the tunnel. They could see a dog’s head bobbing. This time then had to go about 600 feet into the tunnel to get the dog.

Sadie was checked by local veterinarian Dr. Krista Wiley. Gaylord took the dog back to the firehall to warm it up and get the dog some food. Gaylord even took Sadie for a walk.

Sadie is rescued from the water.

Disque and Wolfanger arrived at about 6 p.m. to reunite with the dog. They thanked the firefighters for the rescue.

Gaylord said Disque’s physical fitness likely saved her life, allowing her to withstand the cold and hard-driving water. Disque said she was bundled up in the ambulance and at the hospital. After the ride to Strong, her temperature was taken and it was 92 degrees.

Disque said she was able to hang on to the 80-pound dog by its harness when she was in the culvert before finally letting go. She didn’t know the culvert let out at the other end. She was in the dark in the tunnel, fighting the current when the firefighters arrived in a boat.

Disque and Wolfanger said the Holley Waterfalls is a popular spot for many Brockport students who sometimes want a peaceful spot to study or a chance to enjoy nature.

“Everyone knows about the Holley Waterfalls,” Wolfanger said.