It was an exciting graduation day for the seniors at Adirondack High School in Boonville, filled with inside jokes and tears. But as our Andrew Sorensen tells us, one graduate's experience was made all the more special, as he experienced it with the man who once saved his life.
BOONVILLE, N.Y.-- Many high school seniors take a moment to thank those who helped them along the way as they approach graduation and the real world beyond.
"Thanks for being there when I needed you," Adirondack High School graduate Tyler Fruin said at commencement on Saturday.
Fruin's helping hand that made this day possible came 16 years ago, when he was only two years old.
"Dodie Fruin was coming home from work, she had her son in the car, the road was extremely icy," explained Donald Chaput.
In December of 1996 Dodie Fruin's car slid off the road next to a bridge, tumbling down the bank, and into a river full of fast, frigid water.
"Then the force of the water pushed the car back down the river underneath the bridge until it came to rest against some rocks," Chaput said.
Chaput got a call from his neighbor about Tyler's mother's screams. He quickly found a rope and got help from other people nearby.
"So I got Tyler and walked him back to the edge of the river and then I went back out and got Dodie," he said.
Chaput is now finishing his term on the Adirondack Central School board. Taking advantage of that, he gave Tyler his diploma at graduation Saturday.
"It felt really good because he helped me make it to this moment," Fruin said.
Now they only see each other occasionally around town, but their relationship is one of deep mutual respect.
"I think he's a great guy, without him, I wouldn't be here today. So I always stop and talk to him, ask him how he's been," Fruin said.
"Tyler's one of the politest kids you'd ever want to see. Every time we've seen him, he's been nothing but the perfect little gentleman," added Chaput.
Tyler even said he hopes to take after Chaput's example someday.
"Looking at myself, what he did, I'm making out pretty good. I'd like someone else to do that too," he said.
Tyler is already involved in some community service around town, something he'll probably continue long after graduation, because he knows it's value first hand.