By Donna Deedy
A 78-year-old man accidentally drove his four-door sedan straight into the icy waters of a pond off of Hulse Road during the Feb. 1 snowstorm. The driver was quickly rescued when Setauket Fire Department Chief Scott Gressin arrived at the scene at 11:39 a.m., just one minute after receiving a 911 call.
“The man had self-extricated himself from the vehicle,” Gressin said. “I found him on the hood of his car, which was submerged up to where the doors meet the windows.”
The driver was soaking wet, he said, but uninjured. After tossing the man a rope to tie around himself, the chief said the man was safely towed to the pond’s edge with the assistance of other Setauket firemen, who arrived at the scene with floatation devices and water rescue gear.
The accident occurred at Setauket Meadows, a 55-and-over community where the unidentified man lives. After confirming that there were no other passengers in the vehicle, emergency responders took the man to his nearby home, where he changed into dry clothing and refused further medical care.
The chief said that the man was appreciative, but somewhat embarrassed.
“It was a rapid, robust response,” Gressin said. “Fortunately, the department is equipped with specialty ice-and-water rescue apparatus and trained in cold water rescues.”
Setauket Fire Department responds to roughly 3,600 alarms each year. Winter water rescues are rare, Gressin said, but countywide first responders recurrently rescue passengers from sinking vehicles.