Hero Braves Hell & High Water

By JOE MCGURK
Courtesy of The New York Post

Wading chest deep through the Bronx River toward an overturned car, firefighter Wayne Pokstis had only one thought: "Someone's in there and needs help." "It was similar to going to a fire. A lot about the danger goes through your mind," said Pokstis, who spotted the vehicle as he drove to work Tuesday night - and reached the woman just in time to save her from drowning.

"I'm trained to take an aggressive approach," he said. Pokstis was driving along the Bronx River Parkway on his way to Ladder 39 when he saw a crowd of people on the side of the road looking at a wrecked car.

He later learned that someone had rear-ended the car driven by Thresemma Philip, 40, who was heading to a nursing class in Westchester.

She lost control, plowed through a guardrail and the car flipped in midair before crashing into the river, which flows alongside the road 15 feet below.

Pokstis, a 23-year veteran, climbed down an embankment, where the overturned Honda was quickly filling with water. He joined up with another good Samaritan, Tim Ward, who was already wading toward the car.

The windows were up and the doors locked. His only way in was through a hatchback door that had cracked open during the crash. Pokstis found the woman conscious but in shock. He pulled her from the car, and with Ward's help carried her to shore.

"She's so lucky to be alive," said her husband, Sunny Philip, adding that when his wife recovers she plans to visit the firehouse to thank her rescuer.


Wayne Pokstis (right) and fellow firefighters check the submerged vehicle off the Bronx River Parkway after he got the motorist out.New York Post