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BOCA RATON — Yury Shapshal and his teenage son Sam have been honored for their heroism in saving a boy who was trapped in a car that overturned in a canal.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Neal Niemczyk presented the two with a Civillian Heroism Award. “Thank you,” Niemczyk said as he handed them plaques. “You guys saved a life.”
The drama happened in April when Shapshal, 44, saw the car in the canal outside his Boca Raton neighborhood. He leaped into the water, and soon Sam, then 14, followed close behind.
The elder Shapshal tore open a door of the car and Sam jumped inside to find a boy about his age trapped inside. He helped the boy out of the car, who later said he thought he was going to drown. The name of the recued boy was not released.
“It was very difficult to open the door underwater,” Shapshal said. “I heard a cry from the back, so that was the first sign that the boy was alive. Now I know it’s a race against time because now the flood gates are open. The door is open, now the car is filling up with water.”
Sam, now 15, said: “It was really scary. In the moment, you don’t really think about anything, you just think about getting him out.”