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Drowning Ruled As Cause Of Death For Man Whose Car Plunged Into Saugatuck

The car is pulled from the Saugatuck River early Sunday in Westport. An elderly man died after the car went into the chilly waters Saturday evening, but first responders saved a woman. Photo Credit: Westport Police Department
Police said the car went into the water at a boat launch off Elaine Road, near the wastewater treatment plant. Photo Credit: Google Maps
First responders search the Saugatuck River after a car went into the chilly waters late Saturday. Photo Credit: Westport Police Department
The Westport Police Department's Dive Rescue team responds to search the waters of the Saugatuck River for a couple whose car went into the water late Saturday. Photo Credit: Westport Police Department

WESTPORT, Conn. — The cause of death was drowning for the elderly man from Long Island whose car plunged into the Saugatuck River in Westport late Saturday, the Westport News said.

The state medical examiner confirmed the cause of death, the News said. But Westport police did not return calls about the fatal accident as questions remain about how the car ended up in the river. Police do not suspect foul play.

Richard Lamendola, 76, of Syosset, N.Y., was pulled from the river and pronounced dead at Norwalk, Hospital, police said. His wife, whose screams prompted 911 calls and brought first responders to scene, was pulled from the water first and survived the accident, police said.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, police said Sunday.

Related story: Westport police identify man killed when car plunged into Saugatuck River.

The car entered the river from from the State Boat Launch off Elaine Road, near the wastewater treatment plant under I-95 on the east side of the Saugatuck River, police said.

At about 7:40 p.m. Saturday, patrons from the Whelk Restaurant at 575 Riverside Ave. on the west side of the river heard a woman screaming for help, said a statement from Westport police Lt. David Farrell. They could not see the woman, but heard screams coming from the Saugatuck River and called 911, Farrell said.

Westport police officers and firefighters responded along with members of the Connecticut State Police, Norwalk Police and Fairfield Police.

Emergency responders saw a woman struggling in the middle of the river and heading north with the current of the tidal river, Farrell said.

Related story: Woman saved but man dies after car goes into Saugatuck River in Westport

Westport firefighters and police officers boarded a civilian boat they found on the side of the river and rescued the woman from the cold water of the Saugatuck River, he said. She told rescuers that "she was in a vehicle and ended up in the water," Farrell said.

She said that a man had been in the car with her and that he was still in the water, he said. She was taken to Norwalk Hospital.

About a half-hour later, officers saw the man farther north up the river near the Bridge Street bridge, Farrell said. The man was pulled from the water and transported to Norwalk Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Westport Dive Team assisted with the rescue and the removal of the vehicle from the river, Farrell said.

Click here to read the story at the Westport News website.

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