A city firefighter jumped into the polluted waters of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn to save a driver from his sinking car. Richard Staiti needed a hepatitis shot after his time in the canal, notorious for industrial pollution. He had gone in to get the driver of a Volvo that went in the water early Saturday.
Staiti ended up spending more time in the water than necessary, after he was told there had been children in the car. That turned out not to be true.
Police charged the car’s operator with drunken driving.
Firefighters from Engine 239 rescued a man from a car sinking in the Gowanus Canal on May 9.
The members were called to the scene at Bond and Degraw streets in Brooklyn at 12:32 a.m. The vehicle had crashed through the guard rail and fallen into the canal about 30 to 50 feet from the shore.
Upon arrival, firefighters from Engine 239 saw a man submerged up to his neck in the water and waving for help.
Firefighter Richard Staiti removed his bunker coat and was secured to a tether by Firefighter Darrell Couch, who then entered the water up to his waist to ensure Firefighter Staiti was not pulled away by the strong current.
Wearing his bunker pants, but no diving gear, Firefighter Staiti swam to the victim and pulled him to shore.
Once they reached safety, the man indicated there were other victims in the car, so Firefighter Staiti returned to the car, broke a window and conducted a search of the vehicle and surrounding area.
Members of Squad 1 then arrived to assist with the search, which turned up negative.
This was the first water rescue for Firefighters Staiti and Couch.
Members of Engine 239 after rescuing a man from the Gowanus Canal on May 9. (L to R) FF Darrell Couch, FF Frank Staiti from Engine 151, FF Richard Staiti, Capt. Edward Watt, FF Neil Malone, FF Robert Tomasulo, FF John Dearruda and Deputy Chief Michael Halderman of Div. 8.