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Zelie man pulled from icy water after crash

March 4, 2013 News Extra

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ZELIENOPLE — Rescuers are being credited with saving the life of a borough man trapped inside an overturned car in freezing water up to its windows in pitch darkness Sunday night.

Henry Leo Stefanacci, 48, could not be seen from shore. But he could be heard.

He apparently lost control of his car on Halstead Boulevard shortly after 9 p.m. and plunged about 15 feet straight down an embankment, and into Connoquenessing Creek, authorities said.

“He was screaming for help,” said Chief Rob Reeb of the Zelienople Volunteer Fire Department. “He sounded frantic.”

No time to waste, water rescue specialists braved the icy waters and jumped in with nothing on but blue jeans, casual shirts and life jackets.

Later, another group of divers — this time wearing dry suits and self-contained breathers — used the “Jaws of Life” to pry open a door and get the man out.

Stefanacci was unable to speak and appeared near the brink of hypothermia when he was later flown by medical helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital, authorities said.

He was listed in critical condition this morning.

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