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Posted 2/10/2016

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Cynthia Mitchell, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Command Sgt. Major Antonio Jones and Baltimore District Commander Col. Edward Chamberlayne honored Walter Beach, seasonal sewage and water plant operator for the Corps’ Tioga-Hammond and Cowanesque Lakes project, for his heroic actions in preventing loss of life and property damage in a recognition ceremony in Tioga, Pennsylvania, Feb. 8, 2016.

In June 2015, Beach observed a camper who failed to place her vehicle in park while unlatching from her motor home in Tompkins Campground. This sent the unattended vehicle on a backwards, downhill descent toward Cowanesque Lake and multiple campsites, restroom facilities and a playground.

Beach, who also serves as police chief for Tioga Borough and Township, quickly drove up the hill and struck the small vehicle with his Corps service vehicle, safely bringing it to a stop.  Minimal damage occurred to both vehicles, and there were no bodily injuries.

Beach was honored in front of fellow Corps employees with a Baltimore District coin and a certificate of excellence for his heroism.

“I commend Walt for his quick and decisive actions and, of course, his personal courage,” said Chamberlayne. “The incident occurred during the height of camping season, and could’ve ended very differently had Walt not taken action.  His split decision to quickly stop the vehicle before it rolled out of control saved countless lives.”

This is Beach’s third year with the Corps. He has served in law enforcement for more than 35 years.

“Having been a police officer for so many years, I understand some of the kinetics of vehicle impact,” said Beach. “Initially when I saw the car rolling back, I assumed someone was inside. As soon as I saw the woman run toward the vehicle to stop it, I realized there was no one inside and knew I had to do something.  I’m glad I was there, with the knowledge I have to take appropriate action.”

Cowanesque Lake is a flood risk management project in the Susquehanna River watershed, located in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, on the Cowanesque River approximately two miles upstream of the confluence with the Tioga River at Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania.  The dam embankment is rolled rock and earthfill, 3,100 feet in length and 151 feet above the lake bottom. Other project purposes include water supply, low flow augmentation and recreation.  Those interested in additional information can go to http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/DamsRecreation/TiogaHammond.aspx

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