A Mastic Beach man expressed gratitude toward fast-acting Suffolk County police who saved his special day by driving his family to his wedding after he got a flat tire in a car crash.
“I was very moved. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have gotten married,” Joseph DeMichele said by phone Saturday. “I appreciate everything they did beyond the call of duty.”
DeMichele, 36, and his now-wife, Feliece DeMichele, 36, experienced a roller coaster of emotions Saturday after the 1:15 p.m. crash on Montauk Highway near Plymouth Place in Shirley. The 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Joseph DeMichele drove sustained a flat tire in the two-vehicle crash, DeMichele said.
But Officer Cody Matthews stepped up.
Matthews, who responded to the crash, drove the couple — and their two kids ages 10 and 5 — in his squad car to Lake Grove’s Village Hall, where the couple was scheduled to get married at 1:30 p.m., DeMichele said.
DeMichele, who said he is a plumber who also works in masonry, has worked for Lake Grove Mayor Robert Scottaline. Scottaline opened Village Hall for the couple as a favor, DeMichele said.
DeMichele also praised a sergeant who responded to the scene, who he said gave the green light for Matthews to drive the family, lights and sirens blaring, to their wedding.
“He really made it worthwhile. I was married by 2 p.m,” DeMichele said.
The couple were so appreciative of Matthews’ actions, he became an official witness to the nuptials and signed the marriage certificate.
Police said in a statement that while DeMichele was driving west on Montauk Highway, a driver made a U-turn in front of DeMichele’s SUV, which crashed into the vehicle. Police did not say whether the other driver in the crash was ticketed.
DeMichele said that one second he was ecstatic and the next he was fearful, not knowing if anyone in his family was hurt. Once he realized they were uninjured, DeMichele said he started panicking because he could be late to his own wedding.
Although the day had emotional highs and lows, like any wedding day, DeMichele said that in hindsight, he wouldn’t change any of the events. He’ll also never forget what police did for him.
“It was more than a Christmas present. It was a birthday present, New Year’s gift, everything all in once,” DeMichele said. “Everything was perfect. It still is. I’m the happiest man of all — I got to marry my best friend.”