November 25, 2014

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Roadside Legacy

Memorial to diver who gave life a year ago in rescue attempt is dedicated in Wellington

WELLINGTON — A year ago, the raging Black River filled the valley where rescue diver Allan “Buz” Anderson died trying to save two teens clinging to tree limbs.
The terror of that fateful day was in everyone’s thoughts as a memorial was dedicated Friday to honor Anderson, who drowned while trying to rescue the teenagers who drove around “road closed” signs, left their SUV and were swept off their feet.
Anderson’s mother, Cathy, said her son always loved teaching young people, and she hopes many can learn a lesson from this tragedy.
“He made the decision to go into the water to save the children crying out for help,” she told the assembled crowd of about 100 people.
“The Lord did not call my son home out of cruelty or any such thing,” she said. Instead, God is using “my son as a tool to teach others not to disobey (road closed) signs,” she said.
As a result of her son’s death, the Wellington Fire Department may find “new and maybe better methods” to save lives, Cathy Anderson said.
“So let’s all learn from this and keep our son in your hearts and move on,” Cathy Anderson said. “If you have learned anything from this, I hope you will pass on my son’s legacy of teaching.”
Fellow rescue diver Ken Farnsworth read from the rescue diver’s prayer, and called Anderson “a brave hero.”
“I know Buz is looking down from heaven with pride at the legacy he left and the example he set,” Farnsworth said. “Buz, you are a hero in every sense of the word, and you exemplify bravery and especially American bravery.
“Buz, you were a fellow swift water swimmer, fellow technical scuba diver, fellow underground explorer and a very, very close friend,” Farnsworth said. “You were my inspiration then, and you continue to be today.”
Another diving buddy, Forrest “Bud” Mohrman, said the memorial was deliberately placed at the site of the accident in order to do some good.
“Hopefully, it will make people stop and think before crossing over high water,” Mohrman said.
The plaque contains a smiling photo of Anderson and the words, “Lovingly dedicated to rescue diver Allan ‘Buz’ Anderson Jr. He truly exemplified the ‘Spirit of ’76’ by continually displaying compassion, pride and courage. His life was taken by the swift waters of the Black River trying to save the lives of two others. June 22, 2006.”
Pat Wilkenson, executive director of South Lorain County Ambulance District, said she hoped Anderson’s family could find peace at the site, saying Anderson’s sacrifice had “a ripple effect” on the community.
Sheila Schubert, owner of the property where the memorial is, said she was proud of the effort to put up the memorial, especially if it helps save a life.
 “This is an awesome sight,” she said. “It shows how rescue personnel put their lives on the line for you.”
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.

CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Allan Anderson kisses his wife, Cathy, after she spoke about their son Allan “Buz” Anderson at the dedication of a memorial to the rescue diver.