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17-year-old Anthony Zhongor dives into Great South Bay, saves woman who had driven into the water

17-year-old dives into Great South Bay to save motorist who had driven into the water
17-year-old dives into Great South Bay to save motorist who had driven into the water 02:10

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. -- A young man on Long Island is being hailed as a hero.

He was in the right place at the right time on Tuesday night when a car plunged into the Great South Bay in Patchogue.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday, he proved he has the right stuff by diving in and saving the driver.

The Patchogue dock with a peaceful bay view turned into a scene of panic Tuesday night when a car lunged forward full throttle into the water.

"I just hear a huge splash and everyone running toward the dock," 17-year-old Anthony Zhongor said.

Onlookers ran and could hear the young driver franticly banging for help. Zhongor said he quickly assessed the situation and saw no one else diving in to help, so he did.

"That's what really made me jump in the water, because she was banging on door trying to break it, kind of got scared. So I just jumped in," Zhongor said.

He dove into the chilly water, pulled open a back door, got the driver out, and swam her to the dock before the car quickly sank.

"Dying while suffocating is one of my worst fears, so I couldn't imagine anyone going through that right in front of me. I feel like anyone would make that decision," Zhongor said.

There was inexpressible gratitude from the victim's father. Charlie Samolinski thanked Zhongor on Wednesday for saving his 18-year-old daughter Mia's life.

"The real hero of the day is Anthony, without a doubt. There were a group of people on the dock. They were filming it. He did something about it," Charlie Samolinski said.

Zhongor, a humble high school senior, doesn't boast, but his actions say it all, according to the local Marines who have recruited him into the service.

"I think they are extremely heroic, that they are exactly the type of individuals we look for to serve this country. One hundred percent selfless. That's exactly what we instruct and teach," said Staff Sgt. Christian Erazo of the U.S. Marines Recruitment Center.

Police said the 18-year-old victim stopped on the gas pedal instead of the brake. Her father said she is embarrassed and shaken up and was worried about her parents' reaction to losing the car.

"She's here today because of him," her father said. "A car can be replaced. Things can be replaced. My daughter? Irreplaceable."

She, too, will be thanking the young man who saved her life.

Zhongor graduates next week from high school already dubbed a hero, even before he begins his service as Marine.

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