ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A special thank you was offered Monday to two first responders who saved a life, from a football team that knows a little something about great saves.
On a brutally cold November morning, Islip town park rangers on patrol got an alarming call. A car had driven off Ocean Avenue straight across a grassy lawn into a deep canal. When John Rivera and Anthony LaGrasta pulled up, the situation seemed grim.
“Hypothermia was setting in on him and he was losing movement of his limbs” LaGrasta told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
“He kind of atrophied almost. His knees up to chest, his arms in,” Rivera added.
“That was my first reaction. If no one goes in, he is not going to make it,” LaGrasta added.
The driver was floating in obvious distress, outside the car in the frigid canal. With the windchill, the outside temperatures felt like it was in the 20s. Ranger LaGrasta ripped off his vest and gun and plunged in while Rivera secured him with a rope.
“Once your Adrenalin dumps, you don’t feel any of that until after,” LaGrasta said.
Together, the two men saved a life. The victim recovered. And now they are getting a surprise from the New York Jets.
Fresh off their come-from-behind win Sunday in Buffalo, the Jets will honor LaGrasta and Rivera at the team’s annual “First Responders Night” on Saturday at MetLife Stadium, prior to the 4:30 p.m. game against the Houston Texans.
“We’ll see stories and it’s like you know what? These guys need to be recognized. They need to hear thank you. What’s better is you get a thank you from 72,000 strangers. You know what? You stand a little taller,” said Steve Castleton, the Jets’ law enforcement liaison.
Four-hundred police, firefighters, EMTs, doctors and nurses, with stories like this one, will be treated to a game and a moment of glory.
“Feels good. I would just hope that anybody would do the same thing in this situation, whether they are in law enforcement or not. It’s a normal, human thing to do,” Rivera said.
“I think it’s amazing, but I don’t consider myself a hero, just doing the right thing,” LaGrasta said.
The victim’s family in this case say they did send words of thanks to the park rangers.
First Responders Night is a way to say thank you to those who don’t often hear those words.