STONY BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A woman who was injured in a fiery car crash on Long Island met with her two rescuers Tuesday, they are forever united after the harrowing experience.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday, Alyssa Marie Fox, 20, veered off Route 347 near Veterans Memorial Highway in Smithtown around 2 a.m. this past Saturday. She struck a tree and the car she was driving caught fire.
The explosive scene was captured on video.
And in the words of a letter written by Fox’s parents: “She was alone, frightened, disoriented, badly injured and in a vehicle that was on its side and had ignited. While in fear that she would die there alone, a voice and a shadow appeared in the cold night.”
The voice was that of Matthew Monahan, a Commack volunteer firefighter and emergency room nursing assistant at Stony Brook University Hospital. Along with Long Island Rail Road engineer and former EMT Joseph Moscato, Fox was rescued and saved.
On Tuesday, Fox wiped away tears in her hospital room as she met with Monahan.
“I just remember sitting in the car and screaming for my life, like, ‘You need to get me out of here!’” Fox said. “He got there five seconds later. Literally, someone was watching over me.”
Monahan explained his actions when he arrived.
“Alyssa was trapped inside,” he said. “I immediately tried to kick open the windshield.”
Video rolled as Monahan and Moscato separately came upon Fox’s flaming car. She said she had just glanced at her GPS to help her home and the next thing she knew, she had slammed into the tree and her car was on fire.
“I yelled again, ‘Is there anybody in the car?’ And (Monahan) said yes, and I was like, ‘Oh God,’ So I ran to the back, I got my fire extinguisher, I ran out, and I grabbed it like this,” Moscato said, holding the fire extinguisher like a battering ram as he spoke. “And I tried to break the windshield. I hit it about four or five times.”
But that didn’t work. Flames were getting closer, and Fox could not move. Her spine was broken, as were her ribs, clavicle, wrist, and leg.
“The fire started erupting inside the car now, so I came around with the extinguisher and I told Matt, I said, ‘Listen, this is it. This is all I got. If this don’t work,’ I said, ‘We’re in trouble here,” Moscato said.
Monahan decided he had to act, and fast.
“The fire was coming inside from under the dashboard, and I knew that I had to make a quick decision,” he said.
So as Moscato sprayed the last remnants of his fire extinguisher, the flames died down for mere seconds.
“I grabbed her a little bit more and I pulled her out,” Monahan said.
And as the total strangers pulled Fox to safety, her car exploded into a fireball.
“I would not be here,” Fox said. “I think this was a miracle.”
Mostcato had just left work at the LIRR, and his dashboard camera recorded the rescue. Monahan was heading home from the Commack firehouse at the time.
Monahan’s commissioner called the heroic action life-changing for his fire department, as well as the Fox family.
‘”It brought me to tears,” said Commack Fire Commissioner Pat Fazio.
Fox’s mother, Laura Fox, repeated that her daughter thought she would die in the accident.
“She knew that it was going to be it for her if she didn’t get out,” Laura Fox said. “And they came, and they were her saviors.”
Monahan said he did not even worry about his own life being at risk.
“I wasn’t thinking about that,” he said. “I was more concerned about her.”
Alyssa Fox has a long road to recovery ahead, with months of rehab for her spine and legs. But she said she is looking forward to that with love and gratitude to the total strangers who gave her that chance.
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