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Suffolk cop helps save motorist who turns out to be a neighbor

Officer Thomas LaFemina, a member of the Suffolk

Officer Thomas LaFemina, a member of the Suffolk County Police Department's Fourth Precinct and the department's medical crisis action team, shows a defibrillator used to save a victim in a crash on northbound Sagtikos Parkway in Commack on March. 1 during a news conference at police headquarters on Friday, March 3, 2017. Credit: James Carbone

An off-duty Suffolk County cop helped save the life of a motorist who crashed his car on the Sagtikos Parkway — and later learned the man is one of his Kings Park neighbors.

“Turns out we live two blocks from each other,” Officer James Brucculeri said during a news conference Friday at Suffolk County police headquarters in Yaphank. “Right place, right time.”

Robert Malinowski, 59, was driving north Wednesday afternoon when he went into cardiac arrest and crashed into the parkway’s center divider near Exit S1, police said.

Brucculeri, who was driving home after serving a tour of duty in the National Guard in Westhampton Beach, saw the wreck and pulled over to offer help. As he approached the car, Brucculeri said he could see that Malinowski had a “huge” cut on his forehead and was turning blue.

Malinowski wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse after Brucculeri, with the help of several Good Samaritans, pulled him from the vehicle.

Brucculeri began to administer CPR while one of the helpers, Alexa Bracco, an EMT with Central Islip-Hauppauge Volunteer Ambulance Corps, used a bag valve mask she had in her car to restore the victim’s breathing.

State Police Officer Scott Larson and Suffolk Officer Thomas LaFemina arrived at the scene moments later and administered several shocks to Malinowski’s chest with defibrillators. Commack Fire Department first responders also worked with the officers to aid Malinowski.

Malinowski was taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, where he was recovering Friday.

“This is obviously an extremely important save because someone is alive today because of the actions of the men standing behind me as well as the Good Samaritans involved in this incident,” Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said.

Brucculeri, at Southside on Friday morning for an unrelated matter, said he checked in on the man he helped save.

Malinowski perked up when the officer entered his room and told Brucculeri he looked familiar. That’s when they realized they were neighbors.

Brucculeri laughed when asked if he had a new best friend.

“Yeah,” he said. “Maybe we’ll walk the dogs together.”

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