Elderly couple rescued by good Samaritans after car crashes into canal

SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y. (WCBS) - What started as a minor car accident in New York ended with heroics by multiple good Samaritans. They jumped into a canal and saved the lives of an elderly couple after their car hit the water and started going under.

Richard Ortmann is amazed at the heroics of his local auto mechanic, who jumped into the canal on Montauk Highway as a car with an elderly couple inside started sinking Monday. Police say the couple was involved in a minor accident with two other cars, which sent them careening through a fence and into the canal.

“It was in the air, and it landed perfectly in that water there. And that car was going down and down and down,” Ortmann said.

The mechanic, Mustafa Tosun, was one of several good Samaritans who ran to help as the car sank.

“I have to do something because I see my father – somebody’s father, you know what I mean. I have to save their life,” Tosun said.

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. A passing on-duty and an off-duty police officer also joined in the rescue effort.

“I got his jacket, something. I have to do something. And it didn’t come out. I turned the body underwater. I pull up and said, ‘I got it.’ Then, I see his head. I lift it up and look in his face. Oh my god, he’s alive,” Tosun said.

Joseph Abitabile, 78, was pulled out of the driver’s seat, but his wife, 76-year-old Delores, was unconscious in the passenger side as the car started to submerge. The rescuers broke the back window to get the woman out, and off-duty Lake Success Officer Robert Russo performed CPR to resuscitate her.

There is no doubt the Abitabiles lives were saved by the quick actions of many. The couple was taken to the hospital after the incident, but police say they are both expected to be fine.

“I had his wrist. Someone had his shirt. Someone had his pants. It was an amazement. It was just people acting out of compassion,” said good Samaritan David DeWitt.

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