Amiri Zeqiri tried to hold on.
"We were telling him to stay calm, stay calm, but he was complaining that, 'I think my arm is broken,' and he could feel blood running down," said his cousin, Faton Zeqiri, who was standing at the mouth of the cesspool Zeqiri had fallen into.
"He's telling us, 'I'm holding on.' "
Despite the desperate attempts of his teenage cousin and a pizzeria worker, Zeqiri died before rescuers could pull him out.
The drama unfolded about 9:11 p.m. Sunday when the 14-year-old cousin heard a loud noise behind the Dunkin' Donuts in Smithtown where they were working and went to check it out. "I see the sewer and I hear Amir. He was yelling, 'Help, help,' " Faton said. "But I couldn't see anything, so I ran for help."
Faton said he went to a nearby pizzeria and called 911.
In the strip mall yesterday, Larry Maher, 41, said he was at work at the pizzeria Sunday night when the teen ran in asking for help. Maher said he ran to the cesspool opening and could see only the top of Zeqiri's head.
Faton said his cousin had been holding on to something inside the cesspool - possibly something sharp - and may have been forced to let go.
Police said Zeqiri had fallen into about 8 feet of water.
Maher said he tried to lower an apron and a fire hose to Zeqiri but was unable to reach him. He said he heard a sudden rush of water, then silence. Emergency responders who arrived soon after managed to lift Zeqiri with hooks on two poles.
Faton recalled a recent conversation with his cousin. "He was telling me when he gets married, I was going to be the best man," Faton Zeqiri said. "It killed me inside.''