Thursday, September 21, 2023


Former Neighbor Recalls Car Into Water Victim

By James Lomuscio

With a look of disbelief, Edward Fitzgerald of Norwalk today stared at the tire tracks leading to the Saugatuck River. Image
There were tire tracks today at the state boat ramp where the car went into the water. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jaime Bairaktaris for

There on the breezy east bank awash in sunlight and the rhythmic sound of overhead traffic on the I-95 bridge, he couldn’t comprehend how his former neighbor might have mistaken a state boat launch for a bridge, if he did.

“It was such a shock,” said Fitzgerald upon reading that Richard Lamendola, 76, of Syosset, New York, died in the Saturday night incident that sent his car with him and his wife into the water.

“I knew him from when we lived in Syosset.”

Fitzgerald said he was in a CERT training class in Westport today when a friend told him about the incident.

“I read about it on WestportNow, saw the name. and as soon as the class ended I came down here,” he said. “I couldn’t understand how he came down here. I do remember some rain.”

Fitzgerald said he had no idea what brought Lamendola to the area or whether he had family in Westport.

About 7:39 p.m. Saturday diners heard the screams of a woman in the water. She was rescued 20 minutes later by firefighters, but Lamendola, 76, was not found until more than an hour later.

He was transported to Norwalk Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The car was removed from the water a couple of hours later.

“He was a good guy,” Fitzgerald recalled. “I knew him from the civic association. The big project we worked on was to save the elementary school from closing, Split Rock Elementary.

“They (the Lamendolas) would host meetings at their house.”

The couple’s son Douglas Lamendola, 39, of Brooklyn, New York. told Newsday he and his two siblings didn’t know any details other than what was in the police report.

He described his father as “a wonderful man, a wonderful husband, father to us and grandfather to his four beloved grandchildren. We’re just so upset. This is all so raw.”

Of his mother, Douglas Lamendola said: “She’s OK,” he said. “She survived.”

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