Firefighters pulled a man from an overturned car immersed in the Connoquenessing Creek off Halstead Boulevard in Zelienople Sunday evening.
Police Chief Jim Miller 48-year-old Henry Stefanacci is in critical condition at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh. The Zelienople resident was flown by medical helicopter to the hospital after firefighters rescued him from his vehicle, which was submerged upside down in the creek near the canoe launch.
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.
Zelienople Fire Chief Rob Reeb said the Stefanacci was conscious when firefighters from Team 300, Butler County’s water rescue team, pulled him from the water. Reeb did not identify the man.
“He was conscious and yelling for help when we arrived,” Reeb said.
Reeb said firefighters responded after passing motorists noticed car tracks in the snow leading to the creek and called 9-1-1.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they did not see footprints near the banks of the creek, Reeb said. 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 the driver. “He had been in there a while.”
The chief estimated it took firefighters about 15 minutes to rescue the man from the vehicle after arriving at the scene. Members of the Beaver Falls and Unionville dive teams also were called to the area as backup.
Reeb did not know how the car ended up in the creek. He said Halstead Boulevard, located behind an industrial park off New Castle Street, often is used as a shortcut by drivers.
“This road is pretty busy. You’d be surprised,” he said.
Click the video to watch as the driver's car is towed from the water.
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