SCARSDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Several Good Samaritans risked their own lives over the weekend to save others trapped inside a car that plunged into the Bronx River.
Brian Mandell, in particular, is credited with pulling one of the two crash victims to safety Saturday.
A 32-year-old husband and father from Scarsdale, Mandell was cycling nearby along the Bronx River Parkway when the crash happened.
“The splash was just too big,” he told CBS 2’s Lou Young in an exclusive interview. “I knew it was a car.”
The car had landed on its roof in the dirty river. The witnesses tried with no avail to break the vehicle’s windows using rocks and sticks. Eventually, they were able to pry the driver’s door open.
Mendell then went into the submerged car through water with no visibility.
“The water was so brown I couldn’t see a thing,” he said.
“It was like swimming into darkness. It was crazy.”
When asked how he got the man out, Mandell said, “I just pulled and pulled and pulled as if someone’s life depended on it, because it did.”
With the driver out of the car, there was still a woman trapped in the passenger seat. In an act of desperation, arriving firefighters from Yonkers and the civilians on the scene decided to turn the car over.
“We just began lifting and lifting and lifting, and even with these huge firefighter guys — and so many of them — it was so waterlogged that I just remember thinking, When is this thing going to flip over?” Mandell said.
In the end, it worked, and both people escaped with their lives, although they were in critical condition after spending so much time underwater.
Mandell insisted what happened Saturday wasn’t heroism, but simple humanity.
“It was just so soon after it happened,” Mandell said. “It was just so in your face. There was just no time. There was no thinking involved at all. I was trying to explain this to my wife.”
The rescued victims are identified as Evan Ypsilanti, 21, of Bronxville, and Susan George, 19, of Yonkers. Both remain hospitalized at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
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