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Heroes pull woman from Warren river

A few real heroes are walking in our midst, and, without them, an Austintown woman who washed from her kayak into freezing waters this week may not have lived to see another day.

Jacob Fowler had planned an easy evening fishing with his brother, John Fowler III, when they approached the Mahoning River in Warren. Instead, they found a crowd gathered near the river under the Summit Street bridge. People in the crowd told the brothers that a woman, who had been kayaking on the river, had gone under.

The two men approached the water where they could see the woman, later identified as Lisa Zitello, 41, of Austintown, flailing near a wall. The heavy current was battering the woman’s body against the rocks.

Jacob Fowler told our reporter he said a quick prayer and, without hesitation, removed his hip waders and left the safety of the riverbank to enter the water, shouting to his brother to get a rope.

By the time Jacob reached Zitello, she was face down in the water. He flipped over the unconscious woman and worked with the strong current to pull them back toward land.

Warren police Officer Donald Shipman already was approaching. He had removed his vest and duty belt and entered the water, up to his waist, to assist in the rescue. On land, Officer Joe Wilson next began performing CPR.

All of those involved are heroes. Jacob Fowler and Officer Shipman each entered the swift, frigid water in dangerous, selfless acts. Officer Wilson’s CPR training immediately kicked into action. All of this was done without hesitation to help a woman they did not know.

Zitello has been admitted to an area hospital, and her condition is not known. But the efforts these men demonstrated in attempting to save her life are no less than heroic.

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