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Carmel Police Rescue Woman and Dog Stranded on Lake

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Donna Massaro and her dog Joey with Carmel police officers that brought them to safety.

A local business owner and her dog have two Carmel police officers to thank for rescuing them after a sudden storm recently left them stranded on Lake Mahopac.

On June 23, police officers Vincent Serio and Anthony Bambach were assigned Marine Patrol on Lake Mahopac when at approximately 5:30 p.m. a weather microburst rolled into the area, bringing heavy rain and high winds.

After the storm passed, the officers were conducting a check of the lake when they heard someone in the water in apparent distress.

Donna Massaro, owner of the Freight House Café in Mahopac, had been paddle boarding with her dog, Joey, and three friends, Jeanine Syska, Debbie Vigliotti and Debbie Ciano, when the storm came in. She told police the storm created heavy waves, knocking her and her dog off the board and into the lake.

“All of a sudden the skies opened up with crazy winds and crazy waves like I have never seen before on the lake,” Massaro told Examiner Media Monday. “It was definitely traumatic. I was panicked about the dog.”

As Massaro tried to get her dog back onto the paddle board, another wave hit them and the board pushed upward, hitting her in the head and causing her to get trapped under water for a brief time. The board then traveled away from her and she lost it in the water. At that point, she was stranded near the rocky shore of Canopus Island, while her dog swam towards the shore.

Massaro, who noted she was very familiar with the lake, said she didn’t know what happened to Syska and Ciano at the time and told Vigliotti, a nurse at Putnam Hospital, to find them. They had made it safely to a nearby dock. Massaro said they were all wearing life vests.

Massaro told police several boats passed by but did not hear her cries for help. However, Serio and Bambach did hear her screams and responded to the area.

Serio cut the engine on his boat and threw Massaro a line into the water. Bambach grabbed the dog by the handle of its life vest and hoisted him into the boat. The officers then led Massaro to the stern of the boat and assisted her to safety.

“Everyone is okay,” Massaro said.



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