In March 2017 two teenagers from Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, discovered something in the woods that made them quite the local sensations. And it all started when 15-year-old Alec Yanisko and 18-year-old Joe Delvecchio were out riding their ATVs one evening.
They headed to the woods near their homes, a place that’s popular with local hikers and those wanting to quad bike. At this point, the pair were none the wiser that they might stumble across something very important that night.
As they were enjoying themselves, though, they saw something through the trees. And upon closer inspection, they realized that that something was a car. However, the vehicle’s presence didn’t feel quite right to the two young men.
For starters, the car was a quarter of a mile from the nearest road. That in itself was strange and piqued the teenagers’ interest as a result. Then Yanisko and Delvecchio saw that the car was actually stuck.
So the boys went even closer to check it out. After doing so, they saw that the car was caught on a log; what was even more unnerving, however, was the fact that some of the windows were smashed. Furthermore, there was no one to be seen nearby.
As it appeared abandoned, moreover, the pair decided to look and see if they could find any clues as to the identity of the owner. And in their search, they discovered something that seemed to point the way: a Sam’s Club retail card, which belonged to a man named Edwin Kosik.
Because they didn’t recognize this name at first, they took to the internet to work out who Kosik was. And it was this online search that told them everything they needed to know about the bizarre situation.
In particular, when they typed his name into a search engine, they found numerous news reports about Kosik. It turned out that he was a 92-year-old federal judge who had been missing for the previous two days.
But the elderly man was nowhere to be seen around the wreck. The teenagers were understandably spooked, then, and instead of hanging around, they returned home. All the while, they didn’t know what their discovery in the woods meant for the old man.
After the boys had told their parents about their find, however, the police were called immediately. And officers duly asked the young men to show them where the car was, which they did. But there was still no sign of Kosik in the woods.
“I was a little scared,” Yanisko told The Times-Tribune in April 2017. “I didn’t think they’d find him alive.” Meanwhile, after the pair had shown police the abandoned car, law-enforcement officials organized a huge search party, which included specially trained dogs.
And, fortunately, it was one of the police dogs that eventually led to the discovery of Kosik. The K9 managed to pick up his scent and led officers to the 92-year-old’s location, only 100 yards away.
Kosik was lying on the ground but, thankfully, was still alive. Officials were also able to talk to Kosik coherently; he even noticed that one of the marshals had recently had his hair cut.
From there, an ambulance transported Kosik to Geisinger Community Medical Center, where he was checked over. Following that, a spokesperson for the hospital told the media that the elderly man was in a “fair condition.”
So what exactly had happened to the federal judge? The details remain unclear. But what is certain is that Kosik had been receiving medication for memory problems. His status as a judge had also been changed to “inactive” earlier in the year because of health reasons.
Certainly, it’s very lucky that the two teenagers stumbled upon his car, otherwise Kosik could have been out in the woods for a lot longer. Delvecchio and Yanisko were even recognized by U.S. Marshal Martin Pane for their part in the search for the missing judge.
“We’re very thankful to these two young men that they saw this vehicle, happened to be in this area, fortunately,” Pane told Fox News in April 2017. In the same broadcast, Delvecchio, who wants to become a police officer himself, said, “We’re glad he’s okay, glad that we could help out.”
But although the teenagers have been hailed as heroes, Delvecchio has rebuffed this claim. He has said instead that it was only a matter of being “at the right place at the right time,” according to The Times-Tribune.
And even though the boys didn’t know Kosik before the incident, they have plans on getting acquainted with him. Fox News reported that the teenagers are intending to meet up with the judge when he’s fully recovered.
And their actions are to their credit: a lot of teens would have been too distracted by messing about with their friends to notice anything odd about a car stuck in the woods. But these two boys used their initiative to work out the backstory, and in doing so, they may just have saved Kosik’s life.