In March 2017 two teenagers from Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, discovered something in the woods that caused quite a stir, and even made them local sensations. Their story went viral and this is why.
How Did It All Begin?
It all started when 15-year-old Alec Yanisko and 18-year-old Joe Delvecchio were out riding their ATVs one evening. This is something they did quite regularly, and didn’t give it a second thought, that something out of the ordinary might happen to them.
A Very Unexpected Ride
They headed to the woods near their homes, a place that’s popular with local hikers and quad bikers. They had absolutely no idea that this ride would be some what life changing, they just set off to do something they both enjoyed doing and did quite often. But this ride would be like not other before.
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. They just knew that this was not just an innocent sighting.
Something Does Not Feel Right
For a start, the car was a quarter of a mile from the nearest road. That in itself was strange and piqued the teenagers’ interest because of this. There was no sign of anyone else around so they decided to check it out even more.
Then Yanisko and Delvecchio saw that the car was actually stuck. It seemed to be some sort of mystery they had to unfold, but it was quite eery. Was someone in the car? How long had it been there? They went with their instinct to stay at the scene and investigate. It was beginning to get dark, but they decided to stay.
Upon Closer Inspection
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. What could have caused this? They had so many unanswered questions that needed to be resolved. Where was the person who was driving?
Looking For A Helpful Clue
As it appeared abandoned, the pair decided to look and see if they could find any clues as to the identity of the owner. They carefully looked through the car, checking the glove compartment, under the seats, in the trunk. They even checked the woods and the track to see if anything had fallen on the path that could give them more of an idea of the situation.
A Clue Was Found But What Did It Mean?
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. This was definitely a clue to piece together their puzzle, but what would it reveal?
What Would They Unravel?
Because they didn’t recognize this name at first, they thought they could check out who he was on Facebook. And it was this online search that told them everything they needed to know about the bizarre situation. Just by typing in his name, it gave them the clues they needed, but what was it that they unravelled?
An Important Car It Seemed
In particular, when they typed his name into a search engine, they found numerous news reports about him. It turned out that he was a 92-year-old well known and respected federal judge who had been missing for the previous two days. What had they just stumbled upon by accident? Are they now embroiled in this search?
Vanished, But Is There More Than Meets The Eye?
But the elderly man was nowhere to be seen around the wreck. The teenagers were understandably totally freaked out, then, and instead of staying around the scene, they rushed home. All the while, they didn’t know what their discovery in the woods meant for the old man.
Police Search Begins
After the boys had told their parents about what they found, however, the police were called immediately. And officers 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. This was really freaking the men out.
What Did It All Mean?
“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. It was becoming far bigger than the boys had ever imagined.
Locals Were Very Worried
Highway message boards across Pennsylvania were even flashing information about the Federal judge that went missing. “I’m shocked. I’m very upset because he’s a great man and we don’t want anything happening to him” said Georgia Fisch, of Madison Township. Like many people in the North Pocono Region — Georgia Fisch had known Judge Kosik for years. She drove around Thursday on her own — looking for any clues about his whereabouts. “I’ve gone up the mountain, Aston mountain, checking the back roads and stuff, just seeing if he made a wrong turn somewhere and got lost!”
Mystery Still Unsolved
US marshals confirmed a possible sighting of a missing 91-year-old federal judge on the Pennsylvania Turnpike heading toward New Jersey. “Communications with the family has revealed that Judge Kosik has taken medication to aid in memory loss”. According to the police. The case got quite serious, that FBI also assisted with the investigation, and foul play had not been ruled out. The judge has served on the federal bench in Scranton for more than 30 years, they wanted to find him.
Marshals said that they had a surveillance video showing judge Kosik trying to enter Bill’s ShopRite in Covington Township the night before, but the store was closed. After missing persons paperwork was filed, grid and aerial searches were conducted in the area of Kosik’s last known whereabouts. Edwin Kosik disappeared from his home near Scranton around 1:30 a.m. it was discovered.
Disappearance Confuses Everyone
Kosik’s disappearance stunned the legal community in Scranton where he is well known. Defense and civil attorney Chris Powell argued in front of Judge Kosik for decades. “We want to know what happened to him. And everybody has their opinion, as lawyers, among themselves. I was just over in court this morning and it’s on everybody’s mind,” said Powell. The judge was last seen wearing jeans and a blue winter coat.
Can’t Rule Out Criminal Act
Martin Payne, the United States Marshall, said that after speaking to the family, they have realized some things that may have been a factor to his disappearance, but that at this time, they could not rule out a criminal nexus to this case. A state police helicopter began searching Covington Township and the surrounding areas. Investigators asked that anyone who may have seen Judge Kosik or his vehicle call 911.
Memory Loss Could Mean Only One Thing
His son was extremely worried. The fact that he suffered from memory loss, meant that he could have forgotten where he was and then panicked and been left alone all night, or not have made it through in the cold. This was a huge concern, and the detectives needed to do something fast to find him. He was all over the news so people would know to look out for him. But would this help?
A Discovery Is Made
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. The boys were mind blown that he was only 100 mere yards away from them this whole time.
Alive But Not So Well
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. What had happened to the old man? Everyone was dying to find out and crack the mystery.
Had He Been All Alone For Two Days?
When the news interviewed the police Marshall, he said that it is possible that the judge had been lying on the ground for two whole days until they found him. “I don’t know exactly how long he was in this state for, but it is very possible that he was there the whole time”. He was wearing the same jeans and jacket that he wa last seen in those couple of days earlier so this was a tell tale sign that he had been alone for two days in the woods.
Though Kosik was taken to the hospital, they did not know at first if he had any injuries. Attorney Michael Kosik, the judge’s son, told the Scranton Times-Tribune that his father had a hard time recovering from broken ribs that he sustained in two falls past year.
What Would He Reveal?
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.” It still did not answer what had happened that day and why he was lying on the ground away from his abandoned car.
Judging On The Judges Actions
So what exactly had happened to the federal judge? The details still remained 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. Did this piece together more of the puzzle?
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.
Piecing Together Clues
It would seem that Kosik had suffered from one of his dangerous spouts of memory loss, where he did not know where he was and suddenly became disorientated. He must have crashed his car into the log and not known where he was or what to do. After several tests were done it was concluded that he must have collapsed after being frightened and alone in the dark on his way home.
Thank Goodness For The Boys
“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.”
Not So Heroic
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. They were just glad that they could have done their bit in some way.
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. They went to visit him in hospital to make sure that we was ok and not too shaken up and that his memory had not prevented him from knowing he was ok and safe.
Proud Of Their Actions
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. They could have even run away from the scene but they decided to report it and this saved his life. But would they ever work out the
Paid It Forward
The boys were just glad that they could have been there, and that after all the tireless searching that he was found. They would never know exactly what really happened, but it seemed that with the elderly man’s memory loss, he must have become a little disorientated and tried to find his way home. This made them sad, but so happy that they found him and that the tale had a happy ending.
Edwin’s son and Edwin himself were so grateful for the boys and couldn’t thank them enough for what they did, saving the judge’s life by being proactive in that way and making sure that the mystery was solved. Edwin’s son said in an interview with the news “I don’t know how I can ever repay them, for helping to bring my father back to me”.
Honored For Their Bravery
The teenagers who helped find the missing federal judge, were honored in Lackawanna County.Joe Delvecchio and Alec Yanisko received proclamations from county commissioners in front of their parents and classmates at Dunmore High School.
Judge Watches Proudly
The judge even came to watch them receive the award after being released from hospital, and stated “It was an honor to watch them receive their award, I am sat here today because of them”.