ESM school district honors local hero

Stuart Deland thanks Alex Travis for saving his life in August.

Alex Travis, a 17-year-old senior at East Syracuse-Minoa High School, was honored by the district on Monday night for saving an elderly man's life in August.

The East Syracuse-Minoa School District recognized Alex's bravery with a medal and certificate.

"We're extremely proud," said superintendent Dr. Donna DeSiato. "Extremely proud of Alex, extremely proud of the decisions that he made...In our Webster's Dictionary, you would find Alex Travis's name next to 'hero.'"

Travis was driving with family along Bradley Brook Reservoir in the Madison County town of Eaton when he noticed a car in the water.

Travis dove fifteen feet underwater to rescue the driver, World War Two veteran Stuart Deland. Deland had blacked out at the wheel and drove into the water.

"All the way underwater, I put my fingers in the top of the window where I was talking to him through, and I was wrenching and wrenching," said Travis. "And finally, it just smashed into my hands and I pulled him out. And I swam to shore and carried him up the bank."

Since Deland blacked out before the accident, he did not initially realize what Alex had done. "I didn't realize it in time, but I couldn't understand how I could possibly go over that bank and down into the water without even realizing it, but that's what happened," said Deland.

Travis's grandfather, Gary Knupp, was with Alex when they noticed Deland's car. "The two of us got him up on the shoreline there, and I went and got a blanket and put it on him," said Knupp. "The rest is history, I guess now. It's probably just fate that we were there. I was very proud of Alex and what he did."

Alex, however, does not consider himself a hero. "I feel like I did a good thing, but that's how I was taught, how I was raised," Travis explained. "So if I didn't do it, I mean, I'd have to live with that for the rest of my life."

Deland's family was also at the ceremony to express their gratitude and appreciation for Alex's actions.