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Monday, September 22, 2014

CPR training pays off for PS 7 principal

By Maya Rajamani
Posted
Riverdale Press file photo by Karsten Moran
P.S. 7 Principal Frank Patterson, shown in front of the school, helped pull two car crash victims from a car that veered off the Bronx River Parkway.

The heroic efforts of P.S. 7 Kingsbridge’s principal and several others led to the rescue of two people after a car veered into the Bronx River around 8 a.m. on June 21.  

Principal Frank Patterson was running on a path along the river near his home in Scarsdale that Saturday morning when he spotted several people attempting to gain access to an overturned Honda sedan in the water. 

“It was kind of a nerve-wracking scene,” said Mr. Patterson, who jumped into the water to assist two other men as they tried to break the car’s windows to free its passengers. 

A Westchester County police spokesman confirmed to The Journal News that Evan Ypsilanti, 21, and Susan George, 19, of Yonkers were driving northbound on the Bronx River Parkway when Mr. Ypsilanti lost control of the car and veered into the water at the border of Yonkers and Scarsdale. 

As the wheels bobbed in the water, one man tried to smash a window with a rock, to no avail. But to the relief of the three men, one of the doors to the car opened, and Mr. Patterson and a second man dragged Mr. Ypsilanti to the side of the river. After observing the man had no pulse, Mr. Patterson and fellow rescuers administered CPR..

 “Within a minute or so, he came back and started breathing — but the heartbreaking part was, right as that happened, another guy yelled that there was another body,” recalled Mr. Patterson. 

At that point, he said, Yonkers firefighters arrived at the scene, flipping the car over, smashing the moon roof and pulling Ms. George out of the car. Firefighters used a defibrillator on Ms. George.

The Journal News reported both passengers were in critical condition on June 21. Westchester Medical Center, where they were transported, did not respond to requests for comment about their conditions.  

Mr. Patterson, who received CPR training many times over the years as a Department of Education employee, said he jumped into the water without thinking. 

“It didn’t seem real. I’ll probably never use the word surreal again — that sort of captures it,” he said. 

He said it appeared Mr. Ypsilanti may have fallen asleep at the wheel, as the car’s tracks went through the grass into the river. 

“It was great to get [them] out. We’re just hoping to hear good news,” said Mr. Patterson. 

Janet Zeman, a former Riverdale resident and longtime family friend of Mr. Patterson, described him as brave and helpful.

“He’s a good guy who always wants to be helpful,” said Ms. Zeman. “We weren’t surprised when we heard that he did something like this.” 

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