WESTPORT, Conn. — Police have identified the elderly man who died when his car plunged into the Saugatuck River but had no explanation as to how the car ended up in the cold waters of the tidal river Saturday evening.
Richard Lamendola, 76, of Syosset, N.Y., was pulled from the river and pronounced dead at Norwalk, Hospital, police said Sunday morning. But an unidentified woman, whose screams prompted 911 calls and brought first responders, was pulled from the water first and survived the accident, police said.
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. Police did not say how or why the car went into the water but said no foul play was suspected.The cause of the accident is still under investigation, police said Sunday.
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 immediately 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.
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 might still be 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, he said.
The Westport Dive Team was on the scene assisting with the rescue and the removal of the vehicle from the river, Farrell said.