Onondaga County Men Receive New York State Senate Liberty Award for Helping to Rescue 10-Year-Old Girl and Comfort Lori Bresnahan

John A. DeFrancisco

September 30, 2013

On September 30, 2013, State Senators John A. DeFrancisco and David J. Valesky honored two Onondaga County men who helped rescue a 10-year-old girl, and comfort Lori Bresnahan, after a brutal assault in Clay.

During an awards ceremony at the State Office Building in Syracuse, William Cregg of Cicero and John Harke of Clay received the New York State Senate Liberty Award. The Liberty medal, which was created by the State Senate in 2000, is given to those civilians who have exhibited exceptional, heroic or humanitarian acts on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers.

“Mr. Harke and Mr. Cregg helped save a child’s life, comfort a dying woman, and assist police in apprehending a vicious assailant,” said Senator DeFrancisco.  “They deserve to be recognized for their noble and courageous actions, and I am pleased to present them with the New York State Senate Liberty Award.”

"It is too rare that we encounter the brave and selfless behavior that Mr. Cregg and Mr. Harke exhibited in this horrific situation," Senator Valesky said. "I am pleased to recognize their courage and strength of character with the Senate Liberty Award."

On the night of March 14, 2013, Mr. Cregg and Mr. Harke were driving separately down Ver Plank Road in Clay, when they noticed an injured 10-year-old girl running along the dark road.  Both men acted immediately.  They quickly stopped to help the child, leading her to safety and calling 9-1-1. They soon learned that the child and Liverpool librarian Lori Bresnahan had been brutally attacked by David Renz, who was out on bail after being arrested on child pornography charges.  They also tried to save the life of Lori though she died as a result of her injuries.  Renz was eventually apprehended by police in a wooded area a couple of miles from the crime scene.

“Faced with a horrific situation, Mr. Harke and Mr. Cregg did not hesitate to come to the aid of those in distress,” continued Senator DeFrancisco.  “They stand as heroes within our community and the State of New York.”