A Seneca Valley teacher remains hospitalized Tuesday after the car he was driving plunged into the Connoquenessing Creek Sunday evening.
As of 10:30 p.m. Monday, Henry “Leo” Stefanacci was in the ICU unit at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, a hospital spokeswoman said.
A married father of two daughters, Stefanacci, a Zelienople resident, was flown by medical helicopter to the hospital after firefighters pulled him from his vehicle, which was submerged upside down in the creek near the canoe launch in Zelienople.
Seneca Valley spokeswoman Linda Andreassi said Stefanacci, who is known by Leo, is a special education teacher at the Seneca Valley Middle School in Jackson Township.
"We were saddened to learn this morning of his car accident and extend our thoughts and prayers to him for a full recovery," Andreassi said Monday.
Zelienople Police Chief Miller said Stefanacci was driving north on Halstead Boulevard when he lost control of the car at a bend in the road and skidded into the water.
Police are still investigating what caused Stefanacci to leave the pavement, he said.
Miller said two young men driving on Halstead Boulevard discovered Stefanacci’s car in the creek after they happened to notice fresh car tracks in the snow leading to the water. The men, who were on their way to Burger King in Harmony to grab a meal, stopped, got out of their pickup truck and, after seeing the car in the creek, dialed 9-1-1, the chief said.
Zelienople Fire Chief Rob Reeb said firefighters arriving on the scene at about 9:20 p.m. did not see footprints near the banks of the creek. The overturned car was almost completely submerged in the water.
“Everybody got really quiet. Then we could hear someone calling out to us,” he said.
Reeb said he did not know how long Stefanacci was in the water before firefighters arrived.
“He was coherent, but he wasn’t communicating in a way that made sense,” Reeb said of Stefanacci, who was conscious when first responders pulled him from the vehicle. “He had been in there a while.”
A longtime teacher at the middle school, Stefanacci was one of several male teachers to participate in the school’s “Save it, Shave It, or Stache it” event to benefit the March of Dimes last May.
After agreeing to wear a "classic" mustache on his face, Stefanacci earned laughs by being the only teacher to claim he liked his new facial hair.
Since the accident, several friends have left well wishes for Stefanacci’s recovery on the Cranberry Patch site. Leave your message of support for Stefanacci in the comment section below.
Check back with Patch for updates on Stefanacci’s condition.