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The bravery of Long Island’s volunteers saves another life

Janice Esposito becomes emotional as she embraces firefighter

Janice Esposito becomes emotional as she embraces firefighter Peter DiPinto Sr. at her Holbrook home Oct. 11, 2017. DiPinto saved her the night before by pulling her out of her car seconds before a train struck her vehicle in Brookhaven. Credit: James Carbone

An oncoming train and a car immobilized on the tracks with a driver trapped inside is a combination that seems destined to result in tragedy. Instead, what happened Tuesday night at the Arthur Avenue railroad crossing just south of Montauk Highway in Brookhaven provided an inspiring story.

Janice Esposito was trapped in her car after it was rear-ended around 10:15 p.m. Peter DiPinto Sr., 65, a Brookhaven volunteer firefighter for 30 years, lives nearby. He was already in his pajamas, but he grabbed a flashlight and ran out of the house. He found Esposito in her disabled vehicle with the driver-side door stuck because of the accident. Then the gates at the crossing were coming down, the bells were clanging and the headlight of the eastbound train was bearing down. DiPinto rushed to the passenger side and pulled Esposito free just seconds before the train smashed into the vehicle, demolishing it.

It could have been a devastating incident even with Esposito’s escape. She said she normally would have had her 7-year-old son, Daniel, in the car with her, but not that night.

One defining aspect of Long Island is communities working together to care for each other. Nowhere is this clearer than with the volunteer firefighters who protect us. And that’s never been clearer than it was Tuesday night, when luck and courage came together to save a life.