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Posted 9/11/2015

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By Brittany Bangert
USACE Baltimore

WHITNEY POINT, New York -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District commander Col. Ed Chamberlayne honored New York State Trooper Donald Atkinson in a presentation Sept. 11 for rescuing a young girl in July at Whitney Point.   

Atkinson swam to the rescue of a 14-year-old girl who was trapped near the Whitney Point intake tower. He risked his life to save another as he swam through the strong currents bringing them both to safety.

Atkinson was honored alongside fellow troopers and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees with a Baltimore District coin and certificate of appreciation for his heroism.

"I can't commend and thank Trooper Atkinson enough for his quick response, bravery, and courage. His heroic actions saved a life and he is an example of the excellent service that all local first-responders provide. I'm grateful for their continued support and partnership throughout New York." said Chamberlayne.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers emphasizes the importance of understanding the risks associated with entering these gated and restricted areas.

"Dams can produce very powerful currents, so it's important for visitors to only swim in approved areas and to avoid swimming in prohibited areas to prevent future incidents, as safety is one our top priorities," said Chamberlayne.

Whitney Point Lake is one of 13 Corps of Engineers reservoir projects in the Susquehanna River watershed. The reservoir is located on the Otselic River in Broome County, New York, and controls a drainage area of 255 square miles. It is primarily operated for flood control and flood damage reduction for the valley along the lower Tioughnioga River, the lower Chenango River, and the Susquehanna River downstream of Binghamton. Through 2014, the project has prevented an estimated $723 million in damages.