Elderly Couple Pulled to Safety After Car Crashes Into Canal: 'An Amazement,' Rescuer Says
An elderly couple was rescued by a group of Good Samaritans and police officers after their car crashed into a roadside canal in New York on Monday afternoon.
The incident began around noon when two vehicles were involved in a minor car crash at Venetian Promenade and Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst, according to Suffolk County Police.
As the cars left the scene, one began backing up onto the highway and was struck by a third car, a 2004 Mercury that subsequently crashed through a fence and into the canal.
“It was in the air and it landed perfectly in that water there,” witness Richard Ortmann told WCBS. “That car was going down and down and down.”
The Mercury quickly began to sink, trapping its driver, 78-year-old Joseph Abitabile, and his wife Delores, 76, inside, police said.
That’s when a group of five Good Samaritans and two Suffolk County police officers — one off-duty and one on — leaped into action, jumping into the canal to rescue Abitabile and his wife.
“I had his wrist. Somebody had his shirt, somebody had his pants,” David DeWitt told WCBS. “It was an amazement. It was just people acting out of compassion.”
The group was able to quickly pull Abitabile from the car, though they had to break a window in order to extricate Delores, who was unconscious, police said.
Her pulse and breathing were soon restored by an off-duty Lake Success police officer’s CPR, and the Massapequa couple was transported to the hospital.
Mustafa Tosun, a local auto mechanic, was one of the five passerby to jump into the canal to help.
“I have to do something. [It’s] somebody’s father, you know what I mean? I have to save the life,” he told WCBS. “Thank god he’s okay.”
Police said that the Abitabiles, one Good Samaritan, both Suffolk County cops and the 85-year-old driver of the car that was struck by the Mercury were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center to treat non-life-threatening injuries.