SAs rescue motorist from swampland

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • OSI Public Affairs

A New York motorist was fortunate that two Office of Special Investigations special agents were in the ‘right place at the right time.’

On June 15, 2022, at approximately 2:15 p.m., Special Agents Damian Lonergan and Jamie Huffman from OSI’s Office of Procurement Fraud Investigations Detachment 6 Operating Location C, were traveling eastbound on Minoa Road towards Bridgeport, N.Y., when they witnessed an accident.

Under a partly cloudy sky, an 85 degree temperature and high humidity, a sport utility vehicle veered off the road and created an immense wave of water as it plunged into the swamp waters of the Cicero Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA).   

The WMA is designed for wildlife habitat management and wildlife-dependent recreation. It is low and wet, with upland islands scattered throughout its nearly 5,000 acres. 

The area along the roadside where the driver veered into is all swampland.

“We immediately pulled off the road next to the incident and put on our hazard lights to alert other motorists,” said Lonergan. “I rushed over to the scene and the vehicle was sitting on the swamp bank with the right side half submerged in the water.

“I opened the driver side door and assessed if the driver was injured in any way. She told me she was just a little shaken up but not hurt,” Lonergan recalled.

As Lonergan questioned the driver, the OnStar service in her car queued up and asked if there was an accident. Lonergan spoke to the OnStar rep and informed them there was, and emergency services were needed. The driver informed OnStar she was not injured.

“I pulled her from the vehicle, which was sitting at approximately a 30 degree slope, and assisted her to the roadside, Lonergan continued. “We relocated behind our truck and waited for emergency services to arrive on the scene.”

No other drivers stopped at the time of the accident. From the time of the incident to when Lonergan and Huffman departed, when the local authorities took over, approximately 90 minutes elapsed.

After the driver was assisted out of the vehicle, others who passed by offered assistance to pull the SUV out of the water. For safety reasons, the agents waited for them to assist with the vehicle tow from the swamp.

“This just goes to show, you never know when you will be called upon,” wrote SA Jason Hein, Director, Technology Protection Integration, Office of Procurement Fraud Investigations, Joint Base Anacostia Bolling, D.C., in notifying OSI leadership of the agents efforts. “Huffman and Lonergan were in the right place at the right time and took swift action to render aid.”