Woman who saved Veterans Home resident receives letter from governor recognizing heroism

Erica Borggren, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, left, presents a Governor's Letter of Appreciation to Abby Hively Wednesday at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: Apr. 24, 2014 10:07 am Updated: May. 15, 2014 11:14 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Not many people can say they've received a personal letter of appreciation from the governor of Illinois.

Erica Borggren, director of the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs, presented Abby Hively with a letter from Gov. Pat Quinn and a framed certificate from the department for saving the life of a resident of the Illinois Veterans Home during a ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the campus in Quincy.

Borggren, who was appointed as director in August 2011, said it's the first time she's been asked to present a letter from the governor.

"It is often said that one person can make a difference," Borggren read from Quinn's letter to Hively. "What you did last week made the ultimate difference for the man you rescued, and it will be remembered by all who know of it for years to come."

"You would not be human to not jump into the water to save someone," Hively said after receiving the certificate. "I am very, very honored. You did not have to go to this length to do any of this for me."

Borggren disagreed.

"It is (necessary), though, when people do the right thing. Not everybody does, and you both did," Borggren said.

A resident lost control of his motorized scooter last Friday and toppled head first into the Illinois Lake. Hively, who was watching her three children fish at the lake, dove into the water and pulled the resident out of the lake with the help of Veterans Home security guard Dave McKittrick, who also was presented with a framed certificate.

The resident's name was not released.

Hively said people typically don't think about recognition when they are in the process of doing something like what she did.

"The feeling that I have now, it's better than winning the lottery, just knowing that he's still alive and still breathing," she said.

Borggren said the department is always assessing resident safety, and the incident remains under investigation. She could not say how long that investigation might last. However, she said corrective action will be taken if needed.

Hively said she plans to frame the letter and place it on her mantel.

Since the incident, Hively said her Facebook profile has received several comments from people. She hopes she doesn't have to tell her story too often, and she insists she hasn't changed despite her heroic act.

"I'm just the same working mom as I was," Hively said. "Now I've just kept somebody breathing."