New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, By Emma Seiwell & Larry McShane – This death-defying rescue was part miracle, part muscle.
An 8-month-old infant, pinned beneath a drunken driver’s car Friday after a horrifying 8:30am crash, escaped with her life when a pair of Yonkers police officers joined bystanders to dramatically hoist the damaged vehicle by hand and rescue the crying baby, said Yonkers Police Commissioner John Mueller.
A video showed accused drunken driver David Poncurak smashing into a parked car seconds before veering hard left into the child’s helpless mom as she crossed the quiet Yonkers street with the little girl in her arms.
The out-of-control vehicle, with mother and child now on its hood, then plowed through the glass front of a barber shop directly across the street and screeched to a halt.
“The girl hit the windshield … and then the baby and the girl (were) in between the car and the (store) wall like a sandwich,” eyewitness Gabriel Debraz, 82, recounted Saturday. “Oh my God. Screams all over the place. Screams!”
Officers Paul Samoyedny and Rocco Fusco rushed inside from a neighboring bagel shop to lead the rescue effort.
The pair quickly discovered the bawling infant — family friends said her name is Leslie — was trapped beneath the 2005 Hyundai Elantra amidst the rubble that included a half-dozen demolished barber chairs.
“We got a baby under the vehicle!” declares Fusco on dramatic police body camera footage of the rescue. “Grab the baby!”
Video from the officers’ body cameras captured Fusco leading the brigade of a half-dozen people lifting the car while his partner cleared debris off the ground and grabbed Leslie during the dramatic rescue inside the Lake Ave. business.
As Fusco and the others simultaneously lifted the car, father of four Samoyedny removed Leslie, who wore a white Minnie Mouse print dress and whose tiny body was drenched in motor oil.
“I got it, I got it!” he shouts. “I got the baby!”
The child suffered a skull fracture and burns to her back and foot while her mother — friends identified her as Mirna without giving her last name — sustained a fractured femur.
Both were still hospitalized Saturday, officials said. Both were expected to survive despite their horrifying injuries.
Mirna is an active churchgoer, said Ariel Nolasco, 21, a friend who said she attends Bible classes at his home.
“She’s a genuine, kind person,” Nolasco said. “It’s very unfortunate that this happened …. She has a broken leg and a back injury. Mirna is going to be fine. She’s conscious, actually. She’s a little worried she’s not going to be able to walk again.”
Cops found an alcoholic beverage in the vehicle before arresting driver Poncurak, 43, of Yonkers, on charges of driving while intoxicated, vehicular assault and aggravated unlicensed operation of a car.
According to authorities, Poncurak was given a field sobriety test and consented to blood tests at the scene — where skid marks remained Saturday on the street and the barbershop floor. A friend of the driver said the jailed suspect was a construction worker/handyman with a solid reputation.
“Oh, David,” sighed pal Mike Babak, 61, of Yonkers. “He’s got a good heart. He’d give you the shirt off his back. He’s like all of us in the sense that he’s his own worst enemy.”
The police commissioner expressed relief that the carnage wasn’t any worse.
“Luckily, two veteran officers just happened to be getting breakfast next door and quickly took action along with members of the community,” said Mueller. “The actions taken are nothing short of heroic.”
- Top Feature Photo: Yonkers barber shop was boarded up after a car plowed through its window on Friday – Emma Seiwell/New York Daily News