Saturday, January 30, 2010
By Dave Matlow
Westporter Lucia Palmieri has been in the spotlight for many achievements over her young years—most recently as an acclaimed soprano opera singer. Now she can add “hero” to the list.
Lucia Palmieri: in new role: “hero.” Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Thursday morning’s sudden snowstorm found Palmieri, 34, heading home along the Hutchinson River Parkway in Scarsdale, N.Y. from a 12-hour shift helping out a friend at her all-night business in Queens.
It was about 9 a.m. and Palmieri, who had just made a quick stop to pick up some bagels, was behind a Nissan Pathfinder that suddenly began “fishtailing” on the icy roadway.
Palmieri, a 1993 Staples graduate, watched in horror as the car slammed into and over a guardrail, and then slid down a 30-foot embankment, ending up partially submerged in a lake.
She immediately pulled her car over and was joined by two males who had also pulled off the road to help.
Against the advice of the bystanders who said it was too dangerous to go down the embankment, Palmieri said she maneuvered herself down the steep embankment and reached the vehicle which was partially submerged.
“I sat on my butt and slid down the hill to reach the vehicle,” she said. “The engine was still running and there was smoke around it. I tried to open the driver door but could not.”
At the same time, Palmieri said she tried calling 911 and the operator asked for her location. She responded that she did not know. She then threw the phone up the hill to the men and yelled to them to talk to the dispatcher.
Lucia Palmieri appearing in the 2009 production of “Master Class” at the Westport Community Theatre. Contributed photo
“I screamed to get the driver’s attention—a woman,” she said. “The woman rolled down the driver’s window and said ‘I’m stuck.’”
Palmieri said the driver looked like she was in a state of shock. Fumes were coming from the vehicle and the driver was confused, she said.
Finally, the two men came down the embankment and together they pulled the driver out of the car and carried her to the top next to the roadside.
“In going down the embankment, I lost my shoes and when I was in the water up to my thighs next to the vehicle the footing was slippery and the smell was awful,” she said.
Once at the top of the embankment, Palmieri directed the woman to lie down in Palmieri’s vehicle to await the arrival of the police.
“I had my gym bag so I was able to change into fresh socks and fresh sweats,” she said.
Firefighters arrived and used chain saws to cut the heavy brush to allow them to get down the hill to the submerged vehicle, Palmieri said.
Palmieri said she heard firefighters tell the victim, “You realize that you would have died there if she didn’t pull you out.”
A short time later, the victim’s husband arrived on the scene, crying, and the couple hugged, Palmieri said. The woman refused medical treatment.
Palmieri said when the victim and her husband left the scene. the woman said she was so embarrassed.
Remembering the bagels, Palmieri distributed them to the police officers and firefighters on the scene.
On Friday, Palmieri called the woman, who was from the New Rochelle area, to see how she was doing.
“She thanked me for saving her life,” she said.
A spokesman for the Westchester County Police Department said while he did not have access to the complete accident report, he essentially confirmed Palmieri’s account of what happened.
Posted 01/30/10 at 06:42 PM Permalink
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Of all your performances these selfless actions are most worthy of a standing ovation. Nicely done!
The woman from the accident was so lucky that Ms. Palmieri is a woman who would put herself in danger to help another.
This is the kind of story we need to read. My very best wishes and admiration for Ms. Palmieri!
A true hero who selflessly helped another in distress. Bravo!!
Lucia…we love you … A great voice, a super person and a courageous hero. BRAVO
Oh, a wonderful story! God bless you, Lucia. I believe you come from a longtime, honored Westport family, the Palmieris!
A very good story with a happy ending. Brava!
WOW!!! You’re Awesome! The world needs more people like you, Lucia!