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Crews pull car from Ellicott Creek in Town of Tonawanda

Football Coach and former lifeguard credited with saving a woman from sinking car
Posted at 2:45 AM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 07:41:22-04

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — 7 Eyewitness News has learned more information about a crash that sent a car into Ellicott Creek, late Wednesday night.

The crash happened near the intersection of Ellicott Creek Road and Dexter Terrace in the Town of Tonawanda around 10:30 p.m.

Crews were able to pull the car out of the creek late Wednesday night, early Thursday morning.

A woman trapped inside the sinking vehicle is lucky to be alive, as a passerby, who is an E.C.C. football coach and former lifeguard, is credited with pulling her out through a window as the vehicle went under.

"You can't let somebody die. I know water takes cars fast. I don't know but I just had to act on something," said David Paffie from the City of Tonawanda.

The incident started when Paffie was test driving a 1991 Jeep he is restoring. He saw a vehicle in front of him, on Ellicott Creek Road, suddenly go off the road with no brake lights and bounce through weeds into the creek.

"I kind of had to jump in. I was screaming as much as I could but no one was saying anything. I didn't know how many people were in the car," said Paffie.

Paffie grew up in Bolivar in Allegany county. He said his small-town instincts kicked-in to help as he waded through thick mud, in dark conditions, and swam to the sinking vehicle.

Worried that he too might be sucked down, Paffie found the car doors locked with only the driver-side window down a little.

"As the car was going down, I was yanking her out the window. It was literally the second the car went under was when I got her out," Paffie told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly.

Paffie said other people had gathered along the shore to help but they didn't know how to swim. Once the woman was back onshore, the group found the woman to be "discombobulated."

First responders quickly converged on the scene and worked to remove the car from the water.

Town of Tonawanda Police Department said the unidentified woman was not injured but she is being charged with Driving While Intoxicated. (DWI).