Anthony Capuano, a lifeguard and swim instructor in New Jersey, rushed into Newark Bay to save the life of a man whose vehicle was sinking rapidly following an accident.
The 68-year-old driver had attempted to pull his SUV over to answer a phone call, but accidentally lost control of the vehicle when his foot pressed against both the brake and accelerator at the same time.
According to bystanders, the victim had managed to get partially out his window but was stuck and unable to swim.
"The car is way out in the water, with the man out the window. He is yelling something and the car is going down," local resident Helena Bilodeau said.
Nearby, 29-year-old Capuano heard the commotion and ran to help. Even though he is a swim instructor, Capuano was an unlikely hero given that he had a leg amputated 11 years earlier after being struck by a train.
"I hopped over the fence and when I got onto the rocks I took off my leg and I crab walked over the rocks," Capuano recounted, saying that upon reaching the victim, "He was like 'I can't swim, I can't swim.' I said 'It's OK, I'm a lifeguard.'"
Capuano reached the man just in time.
"It was crazy because I got him out in the last second," the part-time swim instructor said. "It was that moment when a car goes into a body of water where all the air releases and then the car sinks. That's basically when I pulled him out."
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis praised Capuano's quick thinking and heroism.
"Anthony's instincts and professionalism just took over," Davis said. "He jumped in, didn't think about his own safety."
The victim is expected to fully recover.