PATCHOGUE, Long Island (WABC) -- A 17-year-old is being hailed as a hero after he dove into a Long Island bay to rescue an 18-year-old classmate who had driven into the water Tuesday night.
It happened just after 10 p.m. at Patchogue Bay, off South Ocean Avenue, in Patchogue.
Police say Mia Samolinski was driving a Subaru Outback in the parking lot when she stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake and drove into the water.
A good Samaritan, Anthony Zhongor, witnessed the incident and dove into the water.
"She went pretty deep in there," Zhongor said. "She was banging on the door, banging on the window, trying to break the window, of course, and that kind of got me nervous, scared for her, so I just took my clothes off and went into the water."
He swam to the car, but with no time to spare, they had to figure out how to get Samolinski out of the vehicle.
"The dive was pretty far because it was right there, as soon as I looked up, grabbed the door handle," he said.
They both tried to unlock and open the door, but with no luck, he said he had to find another way.
That's when he realized he could use his own weight.
"My weight made the nose of the car go deeper into the water, which helped the back get free," he said. "And and we opened the back up, and she was able to escape through the back."
They swam to shore together.
"She just came up to me and said, 'Oh my God, thank you' and was crying," he said. "It doesn't matter who it was, they were suffering. I couldn't watch anybody suffer in front of me."
Samolinski's father Charles met with Samolinski Wednesday.
"He jumped out of his car and jumped in, and because of that, my daughter is alive and and not really harmed," he said. "It's a miracle."
Samolinski and Zhongor, both of Patchogue, were not injured. It turned out they both attend Patchogue Medford High School, but they had no idea they were classmates.
The car was pulled from the bay by a heavy duty wrecker.
Zhongor, who graduates next week, recently joined the Marines and will head to boot camp in South Carolina in September.
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