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Marfa park ranger honored for tourist rescue

January 5th, 2012 under Top Stories

MARFA – Park ranger Peter Maggio of Marfa has received the U.S. Coast Guard’s Certificate of Valor for a rescue he performed in the summer of 2010 at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state.

Since 2008, Maggio works at Mountain Rainier in the summer and at Big Bend National Park in the winter.

On June 5, 2010, a motorist fell asleep at the wheel, drove off a road, and landed upside down in the Nisqually River. The river was swollen with glacier runoff and the driver was trapped in his inverted vehicle in the middle of the river, at that point about a 40-foot drop from the roadway to the river.

As one of the first rangers on scene, Maggio donned swift water gear and headed into the river.  The front of the car was submerged and the back window was broken, with water rushing into the vehicle, making it dangerously unstable.

From left, Mt. Rainier National Park Chief Ranger Chuck Young, Lorna Leedy, Peter Maggio, and Uwe Nehring, a Ranger, Coast Guard member, and Maggio’s supervisor until his recent retirement.

He broke out the rest of the rear window, entered the vehicle, and worked to cut away the seatbelt while struggling to keep the driver’s head above water. After several tries, Maggio was finally able to cut the seatbelts and remove the driver from the vehicle.

The driver was treated for hypothermia and transported to a hospital by helicopter.

On behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard’s District 13, Chief Warrant Officer (W4) and East District Ranger Uwe Nehring presented the certificate to Maggio on November 9, 2011 at a ceremony in Enumclaw, Washington. The presentation was attended by his wife, Lorna, Chief Ranger Chuck Young, Washington State Patrol troopers, US Forest Service personnel and many other park staff.

The certificate is awarded to both uniformed personnel and civilians who have exhibited courage above and beyond the call of duty in saving a life or attempting to save a life, and/or whose action put them at extreme personal risk.

Maggio began his career with the National Park Service as a seasonal ranger at Dinosaur National Monument in 2003 and then worked seasonally at several other parks.

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