When a woman accidentally drove off a dock, one young man jumped in to save her.

What could have been a tragedy was merely a moment of distress due to one young man’s quick-thinking and bravery. 

In Patchogue, New York, the dock is a place to park your car and enjoy the view. However, this month, it was also the stage for a heroic act from a teenager.

When an 18-year-old drove off the edge of the dock, her car quickly began sinking in the Great South Bay, the lagoon off the coast of Long Island. Seventeen-year-old Anthony Zhongor stepped into action.

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“I just hear a huge splash and everyone running toward the dock,” Zhongor said.

As onlookers watched the girl panicking, banging on the window of the car, Zhongor dove in.

“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.

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wooden dock surrounded by water
Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash

In the chilly water, Zhongor was able to wrestle open a back door and help the driver out of the vehicle. He then swam her to the dock as the car 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.

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The victim’s father, Charlie Samolinksi, expressed his gratitude for the young man’s courage and kindness. He, like everyone else, knew this could have ended differently for his daughter Mia.

“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,” Samolinski said.

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According to the police, Mia confused the gas and brake pedals, which sent her forward over the edge of the dock. Her father says she is embarrassed and shaken up, and even though she survived a possible tragedy, she was worried about 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.”

Zhongor’s life-saving act of bravery is not the only big event that happened in his life last month: He was a high school senior and graduated just weeks ago. He now has post-grad plans that will allow him to continue saving lives. Fittingly, Zhongor has been recruited to the Marines.

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“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.

Zhongor didn’t think about himself when he dove in to save the young woman: He just knew she needed help. His quick-thinking and courage allowed Samolinksi’s daughter to return home, a feat incredible in itself. Those in Patchogue are thanking Zhongor for making sure their town didn’t turn into a place of tragedy overnight, but Zhongor doesn’t want thanks, he just wants to help.

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Acting quickly can save lives.