Good Samaritans rushed to a car submerged in a canal with two elderly people inside and pulled the couple to safety outside New York City on Monday, officials said.
A 2004 Mercury, with driver Joseph Abitabile, 78, and his wife Delores, 76, collided with a 2016 Subaru near Venetian Promenade and Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst at 12:10 p.m., Suffolk County police said in a statement.
The Abitabiles’ Mercury crashed through a fence and into a canal, about 40 miles east of Midtown Manhattan.
Suffolk County Police Officer Debra Gearon, off-duty officer John Tighe and five others jumped into the water to save the couple, officials said. Rescuers broke a window to reach Abitabile’s wife, who was unconscious.
“I saw the car is going still slowly, slowly going down (into the water),” mechanic-turned-rescuer Mustafa Tosun told NBC New York. “So, my god, these guys, they are going to die. I have to do something, then I jumped into water.”
As the potential tragedy was unfolding, Tosun said he didn’t give any thought about personal safety.
“I said, ‘I don’t care,'” Tosun said. “‘I have to jump the water. I don’t care, I have to save this life. I don’t care about my life right now.'”
Another off-duty officer, Robert Russo of the Lake Success Police Department, was also on the scene and performed CPR on the woman as “her pulse and breathing were restored,” Suffolk County police said.
The Abitabiles, who live in the nearby Long Island city of Massapequa, one good Samaritan, the two Suffolk County police officers, and Subaru driver Morris Kramer, 85, were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
The near-fatal accident started when the Subaru collided with a 2018 Ford pickup and Kramer “backed up his vehicle into eastbound Montauk Highway, where it was struck by” the Mercury, police said.
Ford driver Greg Destefano was not injured.