How a quick-thinking cop rescued a Cincinnatus man from an icy lake

CINCINNATUS, N.Y. – When the suspect drove into an icy lake, Trooper Michael Gardner knew he had to act quickly if he was going to try and save the man's life.

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The suspect – Elvis F. Guzman, 27, of Cincinnatus – had been sought by police in connection with a reported domestic dispute Saturday afternoon at Rocky Acres Trailer Park in the town of Willet.

According to the Cortland County Sheriff's Office, Guzman struck his girlfriend several times in the face and fled the residence in a 2008 Dodge Magnum before police arrived at the scene.

A short time later, a state trooper spotted Guzman's vehicle on State Route 79 near Whitney Point. The trooper activated his emergency lights and sirens, but Guzman refused to stop, according to state police.

After a brief pursuit that covered less than two miles, Guzman "purposely drove off of State Route 79 and into a field that led down a steep embankment into an ice-covered lake" near Barker, N.Y., police said in a news release.

With help from a passing driver who stopped to help, Gardner tied a rope to his belt and entered the ice-covered water and pulled Guzman from his sinking vehicle, police said. Guzman was partially unconscious at the time.

Within seconds, the vehicle sank about eight feet down into the freezing water, according to state police.

Fire departments from Whitney Point, Killawog and Lisle responded to the scene, along with the Greene water rescue and dive team.

Troopers from the New York State Police Troop C Dive Team helped secure the vehicle for tow truck removal. The vehicle was transported to the Cortland County Sheriff's Department.

Guzman was transported to UHS Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City, where he refused medical attention.

He was later arraigned in Willet Town Court on a felony assault charge in connection with the domestic dispute and taken to Cortland County Jail.

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