Dramatic video showed first responders rescuing two people from the vehicle submerged in the water off Cummings Park in Stamford during the nor'easter Monday.
Deputy Chief Matt Palmer said it was one of the most dire situations the department has ever been in, mere seconds away from there being a very different outcome.
He said rescue efforts were complicated by the snow and the unusually high tide, and that they were inches away from the truck floating away.
"The vehicle was actually floating away from us, so even with the reach of the tower ladder, we were at maximum capacity of that ladder," Palmer said. "We had literally seconds to try and capture the individuals in the vehicle and get them out of there."
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Stamford police say the woman, identified as 37-year-old Ashley Lionetti, was doing donuts in the parking lot, and as she was exiting, she became turned around due to poor visibility and drove off the wall.
Her vehicle ended up about 35 feet out into the water, with only the bed of the truck sticking out.
"They were banging on the windows in the car," firefighter Frank Docimo said. "Nobody was out of the vehicle, but it was more than 50% underwater."
Lionetti was able to exit through the rear window and get onto the bed, but the man was stuck in the cab.
Firefighters stretched the tower ladder to its full capacity in order to reach the vehicle.
"Praying to God that nothing would happen, especially on soft ground," firefighter Alessio Corrente said. "Especially when we set it up and (the danger is) of tipping."
As weather conditions continued to deteriorate, the vehicle continued to submerge deeper into the frigid waters.
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Firefighters attempted to extricate the man occupant through a small rear window, but they say his size made it very challenging.
"So I start trying to smash out the back window," firefighter Brian Rosero said. "But I couldn't see if I was getting through the window or not, because there were ice chunks flowing in the water and truck was sinking."
Firefighters in the water continued to work quickly as the vehicle sunk deeper, and one firefighter maintained a physical hold on the man's arm and was able to pull him through the small window after the truck was completely under water.
Once he was free, firefighters placed him into the tower ladder, and both occupants were brought to shore.
The man was taken to the hospital, conscious but with some lacerations. Lionetti declined medical care at the scene.
Lionetti was charged with Reckless Operation.
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