By Hannah Tyler, OSU Lantern
Issue date: 2/29/08 Section: Campus

On Friday, Joe Pipia jumped into the icy Scioto River saving Daniel Neese, a boy of about 5, and his black Labrador, Sparks.

Pipia, equipment manager for Ohio State’s women’s rowing team, arrived at the team’s boathouse at Griggs Reservoir at 2:30 p.m. He was helping the team move boats from the Scioto to the Olentangy River. Shortly after arriving, Pipia noticed a woman, three children and a dog walking down by the team’s dock.

Erin Neese, Daniel’s mother, let the dog off his leash.

“I kind of knew the dog was going to walk out on the ice,” Pipia said. “Once he got about 15 feet out he fell through and I just started running to give them a hand.”

Pipia grabbed a 10-foot long, two-by-four and ran towards the river.

“(Neese) was a bit panicked, and while she was running around to find something to get the dog out with, her son Daniel started walking out to help his dog,” Pipia said.

The child reached for the dog’s collar despite his mother’s orders to come back to the dock, and broke through the ice as well.

After giving Neese the board, Pipia jumped into the water, rescuing Daniel and Sparks. With Neese holding one end of the board and Pipia the other, he managed to pull himself, Sparks and Daniel from the water.

The boathouse heater had been on, making it the perfect place for the group to recover.

“We have hypothermia suits that coaches wear in cold weather in case they fall in,” Pipia said. “We put him in a suit and we also put heat packs on him. Then we called 911.”

Bethia Woolf, an assistant coach for the women’s rowing team, arrived shortly after the incident.

“Just as we arrived, an ambulance got there. I figured a kid cracked his head while sledding or something,” Woolf said.

After being informed of the actual situation, Woolf said it was lucky Pipia arrived at the river when he did.

“He was a complete hero, which isn’t a surprise to anyone that knows him,” she said.

Daniel, the dog and Pipia came away from the incident with no serious injuries.