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Cop, EMT pull man from sunken SUV

An off-duty Nassau police emergency medical technician and a Suffolk police officer teamed up to save a man from a submerged sport utility vehicle in Cold Spring Harbor.

Suffolk police Sgt. Kevin McKeon said Scott Kitograd, an advanced emergency medical technician, spotted the sunken SUV, which had a trailer and a boat attached, near the launching ramp at Billy Joel Park at 8:55 p.m. Sunday and called 911.

When Second Precinct Officer Tim Tonkin arrived, a woman ran up to the two men screaming that a man in the SUV -- who police say later told them he had apparently blacked out -- was drowning. Police said Tonkin swam about 60 feet and climbed onto the submerged vehicle while Kitograd hopped into a rowboat and joined him.

McKeon said Tonkin broke a window of the SUV with an extendible baton. The two rescuers then pulled James Leone Jr., 35, of Cold Spring Harbor, from theSUV.

"He must have been in the water at least five or six minutes" based on witness accounts, McKeon said. Luckily for Leone, the men got him out before the water level in his SUV had risen over his head.

"Both rescuers received hand cuts from the broken glass," he said. "He was a big man and when they were pulling him out of the vehicle the weight of his torso slammed the cop's face into the side of the SUV and he broke a tooth."

All three men were treated at Huntington Hospital.

As to how Leone ended up in the water, McKeon said, "I don't think we're going to be able to figure it out. It was perhaps a medical condition." He said there was no evidence of alcohol use. "He said he blacked out and he couldn't explain what happened to him. All of a sudden he just woke up and he was neck high in water in his vehicle."

Leone told police he had been out fishing and was in the process of pulling his boat out of the water on a trailer when he blacked out.

Leone could not be reached for comment.

"Tonkin is a swimmer and in amazing physical shape so it was lucky that he was there," McKeon said.

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