A 17-year-old is being recognized for saving a driver’s life after her car drove into a bay on Long Island, New York.
The terrifying moment was caught on surveillance cameras as a Subaru Outback driven by Mia Samolinski, 18, plunged right into Patchogue Bay.
Anthony Zhongor was listening to music at the dock when Mia pulled in just past 10 p.m. But instead of hitting the brakes, Mia mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal, causing her to accelerate. She was already in the water by the time she could react.
“I heard a huge splash and saw everyone running toward the dock. I don’t know what happened,” Anthony said.
After realizing what had just occurred, Anthony got out of his vehicle and jumped into the freezing bay, helping Mia escape her sinking vehicle as the other bystanders looked on.
“She was banging on the door, banging on the window, trying to break the window of course,” Anthony said of the horrifying moment.
“And then that kind of got me nervous, scared for her. I took my clothes off and went into the water. The dive was pretty, pretty far, so it was just right there as soon as I looked up, grab the door handle.”
They tried opening the door with no luck, so Anthony used his weight to make the nose of the car go deeper into the water, helping Mia get out through the back.
“She just came up and said, ‘Oh, my God, thank you’ and was crying, that’s all,” Anthony said.
Together, they swam back to the platform.
Thankfully, the driver and her rescuer suffered no injuries, but the former was understandably shaken up and took the entire day to regroup.
The Suffolk County Police Department released a statement regarding the accident:
“Mia Samolinski was driving a Subaru Outback in a parking lot off South Ocean Avenue, adjacent to Patchogue Bay, when she stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake and drove into the water at approximately 10:10 p.m.”
Mia’s father, Charles Samolinski, visited the dock where it happened to thank Anthony Zhongor for rescuing his daughter.
“Thank God somebody was here and wasn’t staring into their phone and did what needed to be done,” he told WNBC. “If he wasn’t there, who knows where we’d be standing here right now.”
Later, a heavy-duty wrecker pulled the car from the bay.
“Dying, being stuck is one of my worst fears, so I couldn’t imagine someone going through that right in front of me,” Anthony said.
Anthony and Mia went to the same high school and live less than a mile away from each other. However, they had never met prior to this incident.
Anthony didn’t initially think much of his life-saving stunt. In fact, he said he went to McDonald’s afterward and didn’t tell his family until it was featured on the local news.
The teen, who graduates from high school this month, was recruited by the U.S. Marine Corps and will start boot camp training in September.
“It shows that our training and mentorship has gone to the right place and I’m happy he acted because it could’ve ended somewhere very differently,” Staff Sgt. Christian Erazo with the U.S. Marine Corps said.
Charles said the family plans to reunite with Anthony off-camera to thank him for what he did.
“A car can be replaced, my daughter… irreplaceable,” he said.
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