‘Phenomenal’: Visiting Ukrainian man dives into New York canal to save driver who crashed

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FREEPORT, N.Y. (WPIX) – A Ukrainian man is being hailed a hero after jumping into a canal in Long Island, New York, to save a driver who crashed into the water Tuesday morning, authorities said.

The rescue happened in Freeport, New York, around 9:15 a.m., authorities said. Nassau County officials said the driver was likely speeding through a marina, went airborne over a boat, and landed in the water.

“To get over the bulkhead and also over the boat and into the water, he had to be going at a fairly high rate of speed,” said Ray Maguire, executive director of the Freeport Fire Department.

Volodymyr Zubko, the Ukrainian man, heard the crash in the water and dove in to help.

Moments later, Nassau County police officers arrived and also jumped into the canal to help bring the driver to safety.

“I saw just one leg and another leg from the man, and I decided to jump into the water and swim and pull, and police helped to pull him from the water,” Zubko said.

The driver was hospitalized in critical condition after the crash, which remains under investigation.

The car, which was submerged 18 feet underwater, was later lifted out of the canal.

Zubko has only been in the United States for four days. He is from Kharkiv, and has been staying in Freeport after escaping the war in his country. Zubko said he only plans to stay in the U.S. for about a month.

When Zubko was asked if he considers himself a hero, he said: “No, I don’t think so. I just helped someone.”

Maguire, however, does consider Zubko a hero and encouraged him to apply and join the local fire department.

“He did a phenomenal job, and if he stays more than a month, I’m getting him an application to join the fire department,” Maguire said.

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