"I knew we had to do something."
Utica City FC players Stephen DeRoux, Mohammed Kenawy, and Christian Esposito were driving into town Monday afternoon on their way to read to local school children. Little did they know that their community service would begin on their ride down the Thruway.
While making their way eastbound and near the Verona exit, the trio noticed a vehicle slam into the guardrail on the left side of the thruway and carom back across the road, sending it rolling over into a ditch on the right-hand side.
“We saw it happen,” Kenawy said. “So, we pulled over and we raced to help.”
DeRoux, who was driving, pulled the car to the side of the Thruway and the three jumped out of the vehicle and jogged down a small hill to check on the driver of the overturned vehicle.
When they noticed smoke coming from the hood, they knew quick reactions were necessary.
“It was us and another guy,” Kenawy added. “He called the police as we tried to get the door open. (The window) was cracked open a little bit and he (Esposito) managed to get his hand in there.”
“Clearly, I don’t lift enough, so I was able to get my puny arms in there and unlock the door,” joked Esposito, newly signed back-up goalkeeper. “None of the power locks worked, so I had to unlock the door manually. The car was on its side and the passenger side was in the air.”
Keeping their calm throughout the whole situation, the UCFC players were fast and efficient as they removed the driver from her battered vehicle.
“I hopped on the van, we opened the door and both grabbed her to pull her out,” Kenawy said. “The police had arrived to the scene by then.”
The driver didn’t appear to be injured upon first inspection, but it was obvious that she was flustered and visibly shaken up.
“We sat her down and asked if there was anyone else in the car, any kids, because it was a minivan,” Kenawy mentioned. “She said no and then we tried to help her relax.”
After the players saw that the police had taken control of the scene they hopped back in their vehicle and headed towards Utica. They had a group of Frankfort-Schuyler K-Kids waiting to see them and they did not want to disappoint.
Every day there are countless accidents on the road, and every day there are countless drivers who cruise by and assume that someone behind them will assist. It’s a lot easier to continue your commute than to pull over and assist a driver in need.
“The sooner you can provide help, the better,” Esposito said.
“If I was in her spot I’d want someone to do the same thing,” Kenawy said as he was wiping the mud off his previously pristine sneakers.
DeRoux added, “they didn’t even have a choice, I was driving and I knew we had to do something.”