Morningside Park Chief Praises Lake Rescuers In Nearly Double Fatal Lightning Strike


The following is from the Times Herald Record:

Morningside Park Manager Henry Lesczynski has worked there for 20 years — and for all those years he’s feared somebody would get hit by lightning on the lake.

He never kept his worry a secret. His workers kidded him about it, called him paranoid because it had never happened before. But after Sunday’s incident in which two people were seriously injured by a lightning strike while on the water, nobody is laughing at him now.

Laya Feiner, 23, of Lakewood, N.J., and her would-be rescuer, Devin Corbett, 20, of Loch Sheldrake, a park employee, were in stable condition Monday at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, police say.

Feiner’s condition improved overnight. She remains in critical-but-stable condition, Fallsburg police say. Corbett’s condition had also improved. The lightning strike partially blinded him; as of Sunday night, his vision was better, he was alert and stable and was expected to be discharged, police say.

According to park management, the events started around 3:15 p.m. as a thunderstorm approached. The town park rents four-seat rowboats, and the entire fleet of 22 was on the lake.

With darkening weather and rumbling thunder, the park set off a siren to alert boaters. The boats weren’t coming in fast enough, so lifeguards shouted into bullhorns to urge them in quickly.

Twenty of the boats got to shore safely, but one was obviously having trouble — Feiner’s boat was doing circles about 50 feet from shore. She was in the boat with a small child and a man. Another man was paddling a second boat to shore nearby.

A woman who knew Feiner’s party asked park employee Corbett to help them. He paddled out with the woman. They reached the boat and the toddler was passed over.

Immediately after the child was put in Corbett’s rescue boat, the sky exploded like a camera flash, square in their eyes.

Corbett collapsed in one boat. Feiner fell in the other boat.

The woman who went with Corbett to assist Feiner’s group jumped into the water only a few feet from shore and carried the child in safely.

A man pushed to shore the two boats in which Corbett and Feiner were lying.

Feiner wasn’t breathing. Corbett was breathing with trouble. Their faces were purple.

Lifeguards Kristen Sarno, Kayla Sunnekalb and Joseph Drobysh gave them CPR and got them breathing before paramedics arrived. Feiner and Corbett were taken to Catskill Regional Medical Center and later to Westchester Medical Center.

Lesczynski was proud of his lifeguards, who probably saved two lives. He was annoyed that boats didn’t come in quickly with the first siren blast.

(Read More: Times Herald Record)


  1. These men and women are all heroes and there are no words that can sufficiently thank them for their part in saving these lives. And probably the biggest thanks should go to the park manager, Mr. Lesczynski for his diligence in ensuring that his staff is properly trained to handle a life threatening event. Those few precious minutes before the paramedics arrived most likely was the difference between life and death. We can all learn a lesson from this.

    Best wishes for a full and complete recovery to Laya Feiner and Devin Corbett. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.