By Steve Svetovich
Whether it was an act of heroism or being in the right place at the right time, two Dunmore teens showed smart judgement in alerting authorities to find missing U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik.
Alec Yanisko, 15, son of Steve and Stacey Yanisko, a Dunmore High School freshman, and Joe Del Vecchio, 18, son of Dave and Denise Del Vecchio, a Dunmore High School junior, discovered Judge Kosik’s gray 2015 Acura RDX in a wooded area off Tigue Street in Dunmore around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 30.
After finding identity inside the vehicle, the teens went back to Del Vecchio’s home and notified police.
Law enforcement agencies immediately drove to the scene, including a Dunmore Police Department canine unit. The search dog picked up Judge Kosik’s scent and located him about 100 yards away.
The two teens were riding ATVs around the Dunmore Reservoir before stumbling upon the missing judge’s vehicle. The jurist had been missing in the cold without food or water for two days.
U.S. marshals said Judge Kosik, 91, had been taking medication for memory loss and was last seen entering Bill’s ShopRite on the Daleville Highway in Covington Township late Tuesday night, March 28.
“These two boys are being called heroes in the borough,” said Dunmore Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney when contacted by The Dunmorean. “They were in the right place at the right time.
“And fortunately for Judge Kosik, they did not walk away from this potentially tragic situation. They used good judgement and did some work on their own. They checked the vehicle, found identification and went to work. They went to one of the boy’s homes and immediately called police. They alerted police to the scene. They acted quick and responsibly.
“The two teens should be commended for what they did. The borough is very thankful and we will express that gratitude in some way.
“We are very proud of those two young men and their parents.”
Alec Yanisko, an honor student and lineman on the Dunmore Bucks freshman football team, said he enjoys the outdoors, especially fishing, hunting and ATV riding. He would like to eventually study plumbing and heating at Johnson School of Technology.
When contacted by The Dunmorean, he said, “I don’t know for sure if you can consider us heroes, but we were at the right place at the right time.
“It was going to rain that night and we weren’t even going to go out. But we had nothing to do, so we went out on our ATVs. It was raining and we pulled over. We spotted the car and found identification inside. We went to Joe’s parents house and called the police. We showed them the car and then the canine dog found Judge Kosik.
“At first we were not sure if he would be found alive. He had been missing two days. It sure feels good he was found alive. We want to meet him and his family now.”
And then there was the reception of classmates at Dunmore High School Friday, March 31, the day after Judge Kosik was located. “The kids at school were tremendous,” said Alec. “They were calling us heroes and saying that we saved the judge. It was outstanding.”
Joe Del Vecchio, like his friend, also loves the outdoors, especially hunting, fishing and ATV riding. He is an honor student, hopes to eventually attend Penn State and wants to be a state trooper.
When contacted by The Dunmorean, he said, “It was going to rain that night, so we weren’t even going to ride our ATVs that night. But we were looking for something to do, so we decided to go,out. When we first spotted the car in the woods we were a little nervous. So we got the identification and immediately went back to my house. We told my dad about it and he helped us contact the police. We found out what was going on and were happy to help police locate the judge.
“As far as being called heroes, well, we were just happy to assist in finding the judge and help him out. We are happy he is okay. Now we just want to meet him.
“The kids at school were all excited the next day. They were all congratulating us. It was great.”
Judge Kosik was taken to Geisinger Medical Center for an examination after he was found. He was taking medication for memory loss. The judge was awake and aware authorities were around him at the time he was found.
Kosik had been a federal judge for over 30 years. Earlier this year, he transferred to inactive status due to health issues.
His disappearance touched a widespread search. A state police helicopter searched in the air. Electronic signs reported his license plate to passing motorists.
The boys located a Sam’s Club card bearing Kosik’s name inside the stuck vehicle. The windows of the car were found smashed. The boys checked the judge’s name on Facebook and found numerous news stories reporting the judge’s disappearance. That all led to authorities and the canine dog finding him.
Prior to his tenure on the federal bench, Kosik served as the Lackawanna County president judge from 1979 to 1986. During his three decades on the federal bench, Kosik presided over several high profile cases, including the “kids for cash” scandal.