November 28, 2014

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Dick Goddard rescued from water in Medina County

Tyler Kitson, 21, of Medina Township, waits for help after climbing a tree at Interstate 71 and state Route 3 in Medina Township to escape floodwaters that had swamped his car Monday night. DAVID KNOX/CHRONICLE

Tyler Kitson, 21, of Medina Township, waits for help after climbing a tree at Interstate 71 and state Route 3 in Medina Township to escape floodwaters that had swamped his car Monday night. DAVID KNOX/CHRONICLE

MEDINA TWP. — For more than 50 years, Dick Goddard has talked about the weather. On Monday night, the weather almost got the last word.

The Cleveland television meteorologist and author was one of two people rescued from floodwaters that swamped their cars at the Interstate 71 southbound exit to state Route 3 in Medina Township.

“I’m thinking ‘I’m going to buy the farm — what a way to go’ — because the water was up to my neck,” Goddard said in an interview with The Chronicle-Telegram on Tuesday.

Goddard was trapped for about 45 minutes before firefighters in a rubber boat reached his car, broke the window and pulled Goddard out.

He was taken to Medina Hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia.

The ordeal did nothing to dampen his sense of humor.

“I’m 83 — which is only 28 Celsius,” he said.

Goddard gave a vivid description of his encounter with nature’s fury.

He had left work about 10:30 p.m. at WJW-Fox 8 studio in Cleveland, where, of course, “I was on the air talking about all the rain — 4½ inches in Brunswick Hills.”

Despite the storm, he had no problems traveling down Interstate 71.

But coming down the southbound exit ramp to Weymouth Road (state Route 3), he saw the car ahead of him slam into what looked like a raging river.

“There isn’t a river there, but there was last night, and it was really flowing fast,” he said.

Medina firefighters used a rubber raft to rescue Goddard after he was trapped in his car in rising waters.

Medina Township firefighters used a rubber boat to rescue Goddard after he was trapped in his car in rising waters.

Goddard’s car also was trapped by the rapidly rising water.

He watched the driver of the car ahead get out of his vehicle and try unsuccessfully to help Goddard.

“The water was coming up; I couldn’t open the window — the doors were locked and electronics were gone,” he said.

Goddard said he was probably better off staying in the car.

“If I had gotten out of the car, it would have carried me who knows where,” he said.

He called 911, which alerted the Medina post of the Ohio Highway Patrol at 11:17 p.m., according to Lt. William Haymaker, the post’s commander.

“Five fire departments showed up,” Goddard said.

Minutes ticked by as the water in the car steadily rose.

“By the time they got to me, the water was up to my chin,” Goddard said. “They came out on a life raft and knocked out the glass and pulled me out.”

Goddard remembers “shaking like mad — from top to bottom” when he was put on a gurney for the trip to Medina Hospital.

“I was in the water for about 45 minutes and I had hypothermia setting in,” he said. “I came within, I would say, a half-hour of going to that great theme park in the sky. They really saved my life.”

In addition to Medina Township’s Fire Department, five other departments responded, Medina Township Fire Lt. Brian Draiss said.

The crew that got Goddard out of his car was from Medina Township.

“We sent a team out with a boat and were able to retrieve him,” Draiss said.

The rescue of the other driver, who had climbed the tree, took more time.

Tyler Kitson, 21, of Medina Township, said that after trying to open Goddard’s car door, the current swept him underwater.

“When I came up, I saw a tree and tried to angle myself toward it,” he said. “The first tree branch that I grabbed, it snapped on me, and I went back under.

“When I came up, I went to the other tree that I climbed into.”

Kitson said firefighters in the rubber boat first approached him, but he waved them off.

“I told them to go to the car,” he said.

But by the time Goddard was safe, Draiss said the rubber boat could not be used because of the rapidly raising water and rapid current.

Instead, firefighters turned to Medina city’s large ladder truck.

The plan was to extend the ladder horizontally across the water, like a bridge, Medina Fire Chief Bob Painter said. The problem was the 105-foot-long ladder fell about six feet short of the tree.

“We used a regular ladder — what we call a roof ladder — to extend that out another eight feet to get the guy,” Painter said.

Kitson gingerly scrambled across the ladder to the roof of the fire truck.

That’s when the situation took an unusual turn.

“Tyler, you’ve got to come down,” a firefighter said.

“Do not touch me,” Tyler shouted several times. “I don’t feel safe with him touching me.”

When the firefighters insisted, Kitson responded with profanity and threats of a lawsuit.

Pressed to comply, Kitson was taken into police custody before being transported to Medina Hospital for evaluation. He was released after the hospital check.

Kitson said he was grateful to the firefighters who rescued him and blamed his outburst on the emotional strain of the ordeal.

Asked if Kitson might be charged, Medina Township Police Chief David Arbogast said a citation for disorderly conduct was a possibility, but a final decision hadn’t been made.

“The report is not done,” the chief said.

At the hospital, Goddard paid Kitson a visit.

“I met him to thank him for trying to save me,” Goddard said. He added that if Kitson is charged with anything, he would pay Kitson’s fine.

Contact David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.


  • B4CE

    All this talk of the lack of compassion in our nation… Last night I saw many acts of human kindness in the City of Lorain. People helping where they could, taking complete strangers into their homes until the flood waters receded.
    With all the negativity in today’s news cycle, it was truly heart warming to see the city come together and help their neighbors in their time of need!

    • Sis Delish

      Wonderful story… give your neighbors a few days, they’ll be back to normal.

  • Simon Jester

    So… He did the show on how bad the weather was, admonishing all of us to seek cover, and the went out and drove around in it?

    Brilliant, Mr. Goddard ( Since the software considers your first name a profanity)

    That’s right up there with the bunch of idiots that go ice fishing when it’s obviously warming up and then have to be rescued by the Coast Guard.

    • Rtgh123

      Imagine him, an 83 year old, just joyriding after getting off work (from his Weather Admonisher duties)! He could have picked a more appropriate night for driving around without a destination. Maybe his destination should have been his home!! Wait… nevermind.

      • B4CE

        While Simon’s post is obviously over the top. The mentality of ,” I have to get home”, ended up putting many lives at risk. Including both the drivers and the first responders ! In addition it will end up costing us all in the form of higher insurance premiums.
        The storm was historic, and sometimes we are inconvenienced by weather. When something like this happens, we must make the wise and safe decisions, even if , ” we can’t get home”!

        • It has to stop

          He left work for his damn home at 10:30 PM when all that was left if anything were regular old thunderstorms.
          I get it, maybe he should have waited a day or two to be sure. Jeez.

          • B4CE

            I remember as a child my father worked east of cleveland. There was a monumental snow storm, making roads impassable. Although it was an inconvenience, he stayed the night that work, rather than putting himself and first responders in peril.
            Although this was an accident, Mr Goddard of all people should have know the potential for fast moving water covering roads.
            If people would have heeded Mr Goddard’s own advice, far less people would have been put in dangerous situations!
            Although I don’t agree with Simeon’s approach to the subject, he is actually right.

          • It has to stop

            No one except the people that ended up in the water knows exactly how fast it came upon them. You certainly wouldn’t expect that much water coming off of 71.
            Route 71 at that time was fine. Wasn’t even snowing.

          • B4CE

            You are correct! But it’s not like the news wasn’t bringing live coverage through out the evening documenting the flooding! And I believe Goddard himself said at one point, ” if at all possible, don’t go out”…folks should have sheltered in place. Few years back a Wellington FF died trying to rescue two kids from flood waters. Goddard ( and THOUSANDS of others took a tremendous risk and put their own lives and those of potential rescuers in danger for no reason!

          • Bill

            Knowingly crossing high water in daylight when you can see it is taking a tremendous risk and putting into danger their own lives as those of the rescuers as evidenced by the FF who heroically died while rescuing the teens who were able to see what they were attempting to cross.
            This isn’t the case here.
            All of your comparisons are a stretch, I have to agree with the others.

          • B4CE

            By all means, agree with the others. And you are correct in some regards , unlike so many people I witnessed intentionally driving through moving water, Goddard came upon his unexpectedly. It still doesn’t excuse the many people , including Goddard, from getting themselves into a dangerous position due to their “need” to get some where, including home. They should have heeded Goddard’s advice and stayed put!
            But in the end, we both want the same thing, for the people to be safe. I want them to use common sense and drive at speeds that will allow them to stop in time for moving water, or not drive at all. You want safety services to get them out of the danger they put themselves into.

    • stargazer2012

      Goddard was ON HIS WAY HOME, HE LIVES IN MEDINA COUNTY!! He had clear sailing heading south on 71 until he exited the interstate. This could have happened to anyone, even you!! Please read the article TWICE before commenting!

  • ekwaykway

    It tickles me when weather forecasters get the weekend weather wrong, then get all apologetic Monday. As if they had something to do with it!

    • LOLOLOL

      Their inaccuracies directly affects many small and local businesses.

  • Bruce Tennant

    what about the Woolly Bears ?

  • jimbo

    OMG Goodard’s still around? He started forecasting when George Burns was a child.

  • John Demirjian

    Amazing…Goddard is now 83!