Joseph DeSimone and his dogs were rescued from a Shirley...

Joseph DeSimone and his dogs were rescued from a Shirley lake by a neighbor, Suffolk police and Mastic Beach firefighters. (Dec. 12, 2010) Credit: Steven E. Rice

Joseph DeSimone knows he wouldn't be alive if his neighbor hadn't taken out the trash when he did.

DeSimone had taken his three huskies out for a run Friday morning around The Links, a golf course next to his home in Shirley, when the dogs spotted geese on the ice coating a lake near the 13th hole. The dogs bounded toward the geese and two broke through the ice. When DeSimone tried to rescue them, he also ended up in the frigid water.

"I didn't think the ice would break and I didn't think it was that deep," he said Sunday. "I went to pull them out and I thought, 'I'm going to get wet now' and the water might be four or five feet deep and I could help them out. It was really stupid. . . . I'm lucky to be alive."

The neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said he "went out behind my home to throw out my garbage and I heard somebody yelling . . . I distinctly heard the word 'Help.' So I went back there to look."

After running about 300 yards to the lake, he said, "I saw two dogs out in the middle of the lake that had fallen through the ice," which he estimated was less than an inch thick. Then he spotted DeSimone about 50 feet out.

"I told him, 'I'll get help. Just hold on.' " He ran back to his house and told his daughter to call 911. "I went in my shed and . . . I grabbed the longest extension cord I had and went back and tied it to a tree and threw it to him."

He said DeSimone "was in pretty bad shape, extremely hypothermic . . . He was in that water for at least 20 minutes and it was pretty cold . . . I told him to wrap it [the extension cord] around himself any way he could and then I pulled as hard as I could to get him out of the water," he said.

Suffolk police and the Mastic Beach firefighters pulled the dogs out and took them to a veterinarian. DeSimone was treated at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital and released and was able to take the dogs home Saturday.

"It all turned out pretty well," the rescuer said. DeSimone "stopped by my house last night to thank me. It was a case of perfect timing."

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