A group of people ran to the edge of a nearby lake. Brieske could see that an elderly driver had crashed into the lake and was sitting behind the wheel of his car, unconscious. Brieske knew he had to take action.
The 19-year-old college student dove into the water in an attempt to pull the driver, Salvatore Mancuso, from the driver’s seat of the silver Lincoln.
“I ran over here immediately, took my shirt off and threw everything right here, and just dove in the water,” Brieske said.
His first few attempts to pry the door open were unsuccessful, but the quick-thinking Brieske noticed a crack in the window and took advantage, using the weak spot to smash through the window. He called to onlookers for a hammer, and someone tossed him one that he used to gain entry to the car.
“I was banging on the window saying, ‘Sir please, please, wake up’ and nothing happened,” Briekse told WPBF. “Then I noticed a crack in the window, and when that happened, I was like we need to get him out of here because it is going to sink.”
With time running out, Alton Brieske was able to pull the 92-year-old driver from the car.
“I broke that window, popped the lock, opened the door,” Brieske said. “That’s when the water started rushing in, so I just acted fast, popped his seat belt off, put my arm under his shoulder and got him out of the car.”
Once he was safely back on shore, Brieske performed CPR, saving Mancuso’s life.
Though the heroic rescue has made headlines across American — and even worldwide — Alton Briekse said he doesn’t consider himself a hero. Alton instead believes it was “just my calling today to save this guy.”