New Jersey Firefighters Save Man from Floodwaters

Updated: 10-12-2007 09:45:28 PM

The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

CLIFTON - Firefighters rescued a city man from the raging Weasel Brook on Thursday night after he toppled in while trying to save his dog, which had fallen into the floodwaters moments earlier, fire officials said.

David Nossoughi was losing consciousness when firefighters pulled him from the fencing surrounding the brook to which he'd been hanging on, acting Deputy Fire Chief Vincent Colavitti said.

"If he had gone under, he was done," Colavitti said of Nossoughi. "They got him just in time."

Nossoughi's bulldog was not found, Colavitti said.

A passer-by on a bridge at Hadley Avenue and Third Street heard Nossoughi's screams for help, Colavitti said. Nossoughi had been walking the bulldog and a small mixed collie in Weasel Brook Park off Paulison Avenue when the bulldog fell in shallow water, Colavitti said.

Nossoughi went in to retrieve the bulldog but was overcome by flash flood water racing toward him.

The water knocked down Nossoughi and swept him and the bulldog about 500 feet to a fence, in front of a culvert at the bridge, where he held on and yelled for help.

The small collie ran along side of them on the grassy shore as Nossoughi and the bulldog were swept away. Heavy rains swelled the depth of the brook at that point to 15 feet, Colavitti said.

The fence does not cover the entire culvert, which carries water out to the Passaic River about two miles away, Colavitti said. Police arrived and threw a rope to Nossoughi so he would not be swept away.

Secured by ropes, Firefighter Chris Divver jumped over the bridge and onto the culvert ledge. Divver waded into the brook where he grabbed Nossoughi and, with the help of another firefighter, pulled him to safety.

Nossoughi told firefighters he was about to pass out as they rescued him. Nossoughi left the scene "under his own power" and with the collie, Colavitti said.

Officers from the Passaic County Sheriff's Department were searching the banks of the Passaic River on Thursday night looking for any sign of the bulldog.

In June 2006, 39-year-old Mauricio Perez died when he fell into the surging brook while trying to retrieve a soccer ball. Ten years earlier, in July 1996, 16-year-old Roberto Gonzalez of Passaic died after he and his girlfriend sought shelter in the tunnel during a downpour and he was swept away.