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4 Motorists Pull Woman From SUV On Palisades Parkway Just Before It Explodes

Crash Leads To Intense Situation; 2 Samaritans Speak Of Incident With CBS 2
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Palisades Parkway crash

The charred remains of Anna Bendechinni’s SUV following a July 19, 2011, crash on the Palisades Parkway in Rockland County. (Photo: CBS 2)

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A native New Yorker, Lou Young joined CBS 2 in June 1994. He has...
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VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It was an incredible – and highly risky — rescue in Rockland County.

A woman was pulled from her burning SUV just seconds before it exploded.

CBS 2’s Lou Young spoke with two of the four good Samaritans who were credited with saving the woman’s life.

A mangled piece of charred metal is all that was left of an SUV. It was airborne when Todd Pezzementi first saw it on Tuesday night.

“It was in the air upside down, coming toward me,” Pezzementi said.

The crash happened at Exit 12 on the Palisades Parkway. The SUV went out of control and barreled through the trees on the median with a 39-year-old wife and mother behind the wheel. Young spoke with two of the men who decided to risk their own lives to save hers.

“I hope someone would do it for me, for my family,” Colton Reitzes said.

The SUV’s engine block was broken in half. That’s how intense the initial impact was. When the vehicle came to a stop, leaking fuel was already on fire. The four motorists had very little time to get the woman out.

“We had seconds. I knew that if we didn’t get her out right then and there she was gonna burn,” Pezzementi said.

“We started trying to get her out and the door was completely mangled so it wouldn’t open and we just grabbed onto it where the window had broken and just started pulling on it. You could here the car popping. I don’t know, I guess it was the metal and the glass burning and popping,” Reitez said.

“We got her out on the ground and then we decided we have to get her away from this vehicle, it’s about to explode and within seconds of us getting over on the other side of the parkway the vehicle exploded,” Pezzementi added.

On Wednesday, the woman, Anna Bendechinni of West Haverstraw, was in fair condition at Westchester Medical Center.

The men who helped save her hope to pay her visit as soon as she’s well enough.

Reitzes is a recent graduate of North Rockland High School. He said he’d like to become a police officer. Pezzementi is a former officer.

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