A man, whom many in the Southern Tier already consider a hero, is now a national hero.

New York State Police Trooper Donald Atkinson rushed into the frigid waters of the Whitney Point reservoir to rescue a girl about to be sucked into a water intake tunnel for the Whitney Point Dam.

Friday, Atkinson was named 2015 Trooper of the year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police Division and Provincial Police for his bravery, putting his life on the line for the 14 year old girl.

At around 8 p.m. July 15, 2015, Trooper Atkinson responded to call about a person in trouble in the water and heard the girl yelling for help and choking on water.

In spite of the 60 degree water temperature, Trooper Atkinson swam to the structure and was almost, himself, pulled in by the current, moving at 1,400 cubic feet per second.

A Good Samaritan and Trooper Lawrence Gurdo arrived and got a rope to Atkinson and the Troopers threw the rope to the girl, pulling her to safety.

The teen was treated at a hospital for hypothermia, exhaustion and minor injuries but has recovered.

Trooper Atkinson is a Binghamton native, is assigned to the Whitney Point station and has been a Trooper since 2001.


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