An 18-year-old high-functioning autistic man who saved his mother after their car burst into flames following a crash on Long Island, despite having a broken wrist, told NBC 4 New York a day after the accident that he's not a hero -- yet.
"I am not a hero until my mom is OK," Tyler Gianchetta said.
The 18-year-old's mother, Susan, remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition Thursday with a broken hip, neck and pelvis, among other injuries.
Susan Gianchetta's husband says his 50-year-old wife was driving their son to a doctor's appointment shortly before noon Wednesday when she suffered some type of medical condition on Cold Spring Hills Road in West Hills and lost control of the car. The white Subaru spun out and smashed into a tree.
Tyler Gianchetta pulled himself out of the car; he managed to pull his mother mostly from the vehicle, but her feet were still inside as it burst into flames, a witness said. Passing drivers pulled over and helped pull Susan Gianchetta the rest of the way to safety. Video from the scene showed the vehicle entirely encompassed in flames as emergency personnel worked to douse the fire.
Tyler Gianchetta's father says he just finished his freshman year at Clark University studying mathematics. He called his son a hero, saying Tyler Gianchetta had been through a lot in his life and, "for him to do this is incredible." The father said Susan Gianchetta is awake as she recovers from her injuries and aware of what their son did. She feels the same way he does, the father says.