COPIAGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — What started as a minor car accident ended with heroics by multiple good Samaritans.
They jumped into a canal and saved the lives of two senior citizens after their vehicle hit the water and started going under, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.
“It was in the air and it landed perfectly in that water there and that car was going down and down and down,” witness Richard Ortmann said.
Ortmann said he was amazed at the heroics of his local auto mechanic, who jumped into the canal off Montauk Highway near South 9th Street in Copiague, as the car with two people inside started sinking.
Mustafa Tosun was one of several good Samaritans who ran to help.
“I have to do something. My father, somebody’s father. I have to save the life,” Tosun said.
And so he did. As the car was filling with water, Tosun and four other people jumped in and tried frantically to pull the couple out through the windows.
“I got his jacket, something. I have to do something, and then he didn’t come out. And then I turned the body like, under water, like … I pulled. I said, ‘I got it.’ I’m looking. I see his head. I lift it up, I look in his face. Oh my God, there’s life,” Tosun said.
Suffolk County police said the rescue started as a minor car accident just after 12 p.m., involving three vehicles on Montauk Highway. One went careening through a fence and into the canal.
Passing on-duty and off-duty police officers joined the effort. Joseph Abitabile, 78, of Massapequa was pulled out of the driver’s seat, while his 76-year-old wife, Delores, was still in the passenger side as the vehicle started to submerge.
It was all hands on deck. The rescuers broke the back window and resuscitated her.
“An off-duty Lake Success police officer administered CPR. Initially, there was no pulse, no breathing. They are both now conscious and alert,” Suffolk County Police Ins. Kevin Kane said.
There is no doubt two lives saved by the quick actions of many.
“I had his wrist. Somebody had his shirt. Somebody had his pants. It was amazement. It was just people acting out of compassion,” good Samaritan David DeWitt said.
“Thank God. Thank God he’s okay. I have to save this guy’s life,” Tosun said.
The two victims were taken to the hospital, but police told CBS2’s Ali Bauman they are both expected to be fine. Delores was even able to walk and talk shortly after getting CPR.
You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.