A teenager plunged neck-deep into a river and punched open a car window to save a man from the sinking vehicle. Remarkably, he didn’t even bruise his fist.
Peter Schioppo II, a 19-year-old from Guilford, Conn., was at a dock on the East River at around 10:20 p.m. on Saturday night with three friends – Dan Tucker, Josh Bishop, and Emily Taylor – when they spotted a black Buick slowly entering the water.
“There were no brake lights on. We looked at each other, not believing it actually happened,” Schioppo told ABCNews.com. “Then we all ran toward the dock. I called 911 and handed my phone off to one of them, and we all pulled the car toward the shore. That’s when the front completely sank and hit the bottom. So I jumped in.”
Schioppo, who is 5-foot-10 and weighs approximately 165 pounds, said he couldn’t break the rear side window, so he decided to punch through the back window instead. With water about five feet deep up to his neck, he was “then able to climb in partially and grab him and pull him out onto the trunk. Then I handed him off to Dan and Josh and they pulled him onto the dock. Twenty seconds later, the car completely sank into the water.”
The driver was wearing a white dress shirt, dark tie, black dress pants, and seemed in his 50s or 60s, Schioppo recalls.
“I think I was in the first stage of hypothermia so they took me to the hospital, but I was fine,” said Schioppo. “On my hand, the only thing I got was a small cut on my pinky. But no break or fracture. I didn’t really feel much. The doctor at the ER was shocked I didn’t break my hand.”
“I later realized I had completely forgot about my crowbar that was in my car,” he laughed.
“He downplayed the whole thing. Of course we’re extremely proud,” said Schioppo’s father of the same name. “He’s a very stoic, laid-back type of kid. He did what he had to do. It’s plain and simple with him. He doesn’t look for accolades.”
“The driver was arrested on suspicion of being intoxicated after they checked him over, and he was freed on bond,” said Sgt. Dane Lawrence of the Guilford Police Department. “He has an appearance date but I’m not sure when that is.”
“I haven’t heard back from the driver yet,” Schioppo said. “I don’t even know who he is.”
The act may not be surprising to his friends, as Schioppo has a history of charity work. He collected $1,143 in pledges for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Jumpathon in 2010, and a few years ago he shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is dedicated to children with cancer.
Schioppo is an equestrian and is a student at Kentucky Horse Shoeing School.