TOWN OF FENTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – On May 5th, at around 11:40 a.m., Broome County Sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of a vehicle in the Chenango River off of Interstate 88 near Exit 3 in Port Crane.
Community members who stopped near the accident reported a male and female on the roof of a sinking 2001 Honda sedan. The vehicle was being pulled down the river by a strong current.
The driver, Colby Degnan, and passenger, Colleen Bobola, both 21, of Johnson City, attempted to swim to shore as the vehicle sunk into the river.
Bobola was able to make it to shore, but the currents swept Degnan further down the Chenango.
Bobola called 911 and provided real-time updates on the location of Degnan so that deputies were able to locate him.
A short time later, Broome County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Hamilton spotted Degnan and tied a rescue line around his waist before jumping into the river.
Dep. Hamilton successfully brought Degnan to shore, but he was unresponsive. Hamilton and Broome County Sheriff’s Detective Matt Barcak immediately began CPR on Degnan and continued until EMS arrived.
Degnan was transported to Wilson Hospital where he remains in critical condition. Bobola was also taken to Wilson Hospital for minor injuries and released.
“Deputy Hamilton acted quickly and courageously, putting his own life at risk to rescue Colby Degnan from drowning in the Chenango River,” said Sheriff Fred Akshar. “We’ve been informed by medical staff that the CPR performed by Dep. Hamilton and Detective Barcak on Colby once he was ashore saved this young man’s life. These acts of unquestionable bravery and resilience are exactly why our community depends on the heroic men and women of the Broome County Sheriff’s Office to help keep our families safe. Dep. Hamilton and Det. Barcak’s actions have made our entire team and this entire community exceedingly proud, and our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Degnan and his family for a full and swift recovery.”
A preliminary investigation revealed that Degnan’s vehicle veered across the highway, struck a guardrail just west of the Exit 3 on-ramp for I-88 westbound, and landed in the river.
The vehicle has been located utilizing a drone, however, the recovery has been delayed due to hazardous river conditions. The Sheriff’s Office will wait until the water level drops.
The Broome County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by NYS DOT, Port Crane Fire Department, and Broome Volunteer Ambulance.