An Ashaway man who dived into the Pawcatuck River to rescue a man from a sinking car on New Year's Day was honored by the state Senate on Tuesday.

Kyle Driscoll, 25, a bartender at the Malted Barley on High Street in Westerly, was presented with a certificate of commendation at the Statehouse, and a resolution recounting the dramatic rescue. Senate Minority Whip Elaine J. Morgan, R-Ashaway, called him "brave and selfless."

“It is such an honor to welcome a true hero to the Senate today. Kyle Driscoll risked his own life without hesitation to save a stranger. We are so fortunate to have such a hero in our community,” said Morgan. Driscoll is a resident of  Morgan's district.

Shortly after midnight on New Year's Day, Driscoll was at the rear of the Malted Barley finishing up a cigarette break after a fire alarm when he heard loud crashing sounds and saw a gray 2007 Saab driven by Andreas Berry Barbero, 23, plunge into the water.

Westerly and Stonington police and fire officials said Driscoll literally sprang into action. He took off his shoes, jumped from a stone wall into the river and pulled out Barbero, who appeared to be in shock. He then swam with Barbero for several hundred feet in the swift current until he was able to final a cable and pull himself and Barbero onto a nearby ledge, under the Westerly-Pawcatuck bridge, until Pawcatuck firefighters arrived by boat.

Despite high water torrential rain, both men escaped unharmed. In a phone interview in January, Driscoll said he didn't see the response as an act of bravery, but instead was simply reacting to a dangerous situation he saw developing in front of him.

“I didn’t really think about it to be honest,” Driscoll said. “We heard the car go in and I could see a man in the driver’s seat. He wasn’t moving and the car instantly began to sink, so I took off my shoes and just went in to get him.”

After the incident, police and fire officials spent a week looking for the vehicle, but ended the search after clearing all channels. As of Tuesday afternoon, the car has still not been located.

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