The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

July 10, 2014

Ex-local woman drowns saving boys

WESTFIELD, N.Y. — A former Mercer County woman drowned Wednesday afternoon while trying to save her young son and his friend in Lake Erie at a western New York beach.

Kristen L. Stefan, 37, of Bethel Park, Pa., swam out to rescue the boys around 2:30 p.m. near Shore Haven Beach in Westfield, N.Y., but was swept under the water, Chautauqua County sheriff’s office said in a news release.

Westfield is about 55 miles southwest of Buffalo.

Tyler Stefan, 9, and Benjamin Bignell, 8, of Canonsburg, whose families were vacationing together, had been playing in the water on an inflated tube. Lake wave action pushed them toward deeper water, the release said.

Mrs. Stefan swam to help the boys, but the wind and currents carried all three into a cove along the rocky shoreline where they tried to climb to safety.

Benjamin scaled the cliff, but Tyler fell back into the lake. Mrs. Stefan “vanished under the water,” while trying to help him, the sheriff’s office said.

She was pronounced dead at the Westfield Hospital emergency room.

Matt Ward, who lives in Shore Haven, swam out to help Tyler who was treated for hypothermia. Benjamin was not injured.

Mrs. Stefan is the wife of North Allegheny High School band director Todd Stefan. He was a music teacher and band director for Sharpsville Area School District from August 1997 to June 2000.

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