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Huntington harbor master rescues driver from Halesite waters

A quick-thinking harbor master rescued a man from

A quick-thinking harbor master rescued a man from a sinking sport utility vehicle, after the driver's brakes failed and he crashed into waters off Halesite, town officials said. Credit: Stringer News

A quick-thinking harbor master rescued a driver whose brakes apparently failed and crashed into waters off Halesite, town officials said Monday.

Just after 6 p.m. Monday, the man lost control of his vehicle as he was driving on Youngs Hill Road in Halesite, town officials said. He crossed New York Avenue, passed the Halesite Fire Department and crashed into Huntington Harbor next to the town's harbor master office, according to Huntington Town spokesman A.J. Carter.

Harbor Master Ryan Sammis, 32, heard the emergency call over the radio and raced to the scene.

"When I got there the guy was about to go under," said Sammis, a harbor master for three months. "There was no time so I jumped right in. He was on the surface of the water."

Still wearing his civilian clothes, Sammis was able to retrieve the man who was out of the vehicle, which was sinking.

"We got him into the boat," Sammis said, referring to Fred Uvena, another harbor master.

From there, Sammis said he quickly put on Rapid Dive Equipment -- apparatus designed to help rescue people in marine emergencies -- and dove back into the estimated 53-degree water. The apparatus had been donated to the town by the Bay Constables Benevolent Association last year.

"I went back in just to make sure no one else was in the water," Sammis said. "Luckily there wasn't anyone."

The unidentified man was semiconscious when he was retrieved him from the water, Sammis said. The man was transported to Huntington Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Suffolk County police confirmed the single-vehicle crash involving an unidentified 42-year-old driver in a white SUV.

The victim later told town officials that his brakes had failed and he lost control of the SUV, according to Carter.

Sammis was treated and released at Huntington Hospital. He said he was cold but so glad he was there to help.

"Hopefully he's doing all right," Sammis said of the victim. "That's our concern."

Members from the Suffolk police's marine unit and Second Precinct patrol officers also responded to the emergency.

CORRECTION: Because of incorrect information from police, an earlier version of this story misstated the age of the driver who was rescued.


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