Local family shares near tragedy to promote water safety


SCOTT TOWNSHIP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Heading to the lake is a a popular way for many of us to cool off from the heat and get away during the pandemic. But if a lake is your destination, keep in mind that safety can never take a vacation.

Bodies of water like Chapman Lake are typically populated with watercraft operators and swimmers on summer weekends. But what happened here four summers ago is a cautionary tale for us all.

What happened here on this water forever changed the lives of 11-year-old Ella Bianchi and her family. The New Milford girl was sitting on a floating dock at Chapman Lake in August 2016.

“A jet ski recklessly came in and got too close to the dock and hit her and then she hit another boy and she flew into the water,” said Nicole Bianchi, Ella’s Mother.

Ella‘s mom performed CPR before the child was taken to Geisinger CMC in Scranton and then flown to Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville.

“I woke up in the helicopter while I was getting life flighted,” said Ella Bianchi, water accident victim.

Emotions are still raw from that day Ella suffered multiple fractures, major lacerations and a severe concussion. She nearly died. Multiple surgeries and extensive therapy gave Ella back her life. But some wounds just do not heal.

“She has done a very good job being strong and being brave but there’s only you know so much you can do to put that in and compartmentalize it and put it in the back of your mind,” said Nicole.

The Bianchi family is urging all of us to keep water recreation safety in mind at all times.

“You should have your boater safety certificate and take the boater safety course. Everyone should invest in very good quality life jacket because all the doctors that came in contact with us after Ella’s accident have told us that the lifejacket saved her life because it absorbed some of the trauma,” said Nicole.

“Even if you’re not on that boat, you know, wearing a life jacket near the dock is very important,” said Dr. Laurie Campfield, Pediatrician, Geisinger.

Pediatrician Laurie Campfield urges parents to learn CPR and discourages the use of alcohol when it comes to water recreation.

“Pools, lakes, oceans, nowhere do water and alcohol mix. And it’s also very important to designate if you have children with you make sure there is an adult that is designated as the on point in charge of the children,” said Dr. Campfield.

Since Ella’s terrible injuries, floating docks have been removed here at Chapman Lake as another way of preventing another horrible incident like hers from ever happening again. 

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