Weather may have saved boy thrown from bridge

By Diane Smith and Deborah Guziak Record-Courier Published:

Saturday's high winds may have saved 3-year-old Dylan Diblik's life on Monday.

The boy, who was walking with his mother and grandparents across the West Main Street bridge Monday evening, was rescued from the Cuyahoga River where he was propelled after being struck by a car.

Dylan was pulled from the river by James Luli of Rootstown and taken to Children's Medical Center in Akron. But Dylan was released Tuesday and is now in the care of his father, Michael, of Kent.

Dylan's mother, Laura Diblik, 34, of Birchwood Drive in Sugar Bush Knolls, remains in serious condition in the intensive care unit of Akron City Hospital. His grandparents, Roy and Ruth Orndorff of Sugar Bush Knolls, were not injured.

Saturday's winds _ reaching about 40 mph _ knocked six sections of boards placed across the top of the Lake Rockwell Dam into the reservoir. The boards had been in place since Friday to raise the water level within the reservoir.

"In the summer, we like to reserve extra water to protect against drought," said Ray Flasco, Akron's water supply manager. "In order to do this, you have to put boards across the dam."

To install the boards, the water level of the reservoir is lowered by opening valves that release the water from the bottom of the dam into the Cuyahoga River.

To re-install the boards, employees had opened the dam's valve 24 inches Monday morning, about four times more than the usual 6 inches.

"When the boards blew off, the water was rising," he said. "We opened the valve to 24 inches at 10 a.m., which would release 185 million gallons per day."

The water release caused the river to swell from about 3 feet in depth to about 12 feet in depth.

Authorities are still puzzled over the cause of the crash that pinned Dylan's mother and knocked Dylan from the bridge into the river.

"We can see what took place, we just don't know why the person drove the way he drove," said Kent Police Chief James Peach.

Driver Richard R. Tardif, 46, of Woodard Avenue in Kent, is facing a charge of aggravated vehicular assault, a fourth-degree felony, after his car careened onto the sidewalk and into the family strolling along the bridge.

Tardif had been in Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna in a "step-down" unit, where patients are transferred after they leave the hospital's coronary unit. He has since been released.

He remains free on a personal recognizance bond pending an arraignment Monday.

Peach said he does not know if Tardif suffered a heart attack, and if so whether that might have occurred before or after the crash. Any medical information is protected information and could not be released to authorities unless Tardif makes it public, he said.

"It's not part of our investigation," he said.

Peach said police have also not been able to talk to Tardif to find out what happened.

"He got an attorney the day of the accident," he said.

Kent City Council, meanwhile, announced it would honor Luli at its next meeting.

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