2 teens who nearly drowned off Long Island reunited with rescuer

MASSAPEQUA, Long Island (WABC) -- A 17-year-old boy and his 14-year-old brother who both nearly drowned in the waters off Long Island were reunited Tuesday with the man who saved their lives.

Vincent and Joey LaGrega were with family on their uncle's boat near Democratic Point in the Fire Island Inlet on July 12. They were on the shore watching their uncle struggle to anchor the boat, and Vincent instinctively jumped in the water to swim out.

"My uncle was trying to anchor the boat," he said. "I was trying to swim and help him, couldn't swim anymore."

LaGrega attempted to swim in the strong currents and was shouting for help when his 14-year-old brother Joey attempted to rescue him but quickly found himself in trouble as well.

"I jumped in, not knowing how bad it would be," Joey LaGrega said. "Once I jumped in, I just ran out air. I was just scared for my life."

At that point, Town of Oyster Bay employee Christopher Madden approached the scene on a personal watercraft and successfully pulled both teenagers out of the water.

He was off-duty and spotted the boys in the water from the shore.

"In times like this, you don't expect things to go so fast like this in the water," Madden said. "I pushed the Jet Ski in the water and saw these guys drowning at the time and struggling to get to the boat. So I went, grabbed the one kid, dropped him off at the boat; went and got the other kid."

Madden took both teens back to their uncle's boat that day, and they are still here to tell about it.

"I just want to thank him for everything he did," Joey LaGrega said. "And I just want him to know he saved me and my brother.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino reunited Madded and LaGrega Tuesday at the marina located at John J. Burns Park in Massapequa.

"He doesn't call himself a hero, but he says, 'I was a good guy doing a good thing,'" Saladino said. "Well Chris Madden is much more than a good guy. He is a hero."

* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.