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Syosset man killed in Connecticut after car goes into river, cops say

A car that plunged into the Saugatuck River

A car that plunged into the Saugatuck River in Connecticut, killing a Syosset man inside, is pulled from the water. The victim's wife was in the car with him and was rescued from the water, the couple's son said. Credit: Westport Police

A Syosset man died Saturday after a car he was riding in plunged into the Saugatuck River in Westport, Connecticut, authorities said, but a woman in the car with him was rescued from the water.

The victim was identified Sunday as Richard Lamendola, 76.

No foul play was suspected, police said, but the circumstances surrounding the car going into the river remained under investigation.

In a news release, Westport police said authorities were alerted at about 7:40 p.m. after patrons at The Whelk, a riverfront restaurant, heard a woman, later identified by Lamendola’s son as the victim’s wife, screaming for help. The restaurant patrons could not see the woman and called 911.

Emergency responders saw the woman struggling in the middle of the river heading north with the current, and Westport firefighters and police officers boarded a civilian boat on the side of the river and pulled her to safety, police said.

The couple’s son Douglas Lamendola, 39, of Brooklyn, said he and his two siblings didn’t know any details other than what was in the police report. He described his father as “a wonderful man, a wonderful husband, father to us and grandfather to his four beloved grandchildren. We’re just so upset. This is all so raw.”

Local authorities said the woman was able to tell them that she had been in the car and “ended up in the water.” She said there was a man with her in the car and he might still be in the water.

The woman was taken to Norwalk Hospital. About a half-hour later, police officers saw the Lamendola farther up the river near the Bridge Street Bridge, authorities said. He was pulled from the water and taken to the same hospital.

Of his mother, Douglas Lamendola said:

“She’s OK. She survived.”

Westport police are investigating and no further details were immediately available, but preliminary information indicates the vehicle entered the river from the State Boat Launch off Elaine Road.

With Ted Phillips

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