November 24, 2021

Giving Thanks This Weekend For Rescuer During Hurricane Ida

To the Editor:

On the evening of September 1 Hurricane Ida was approaching. My husband and I were to meet good friends for dinner in Rocky Hill at 6:30. Around 6:15 we called our friends to cancel. As fate would have it, they were at the restaurant already. We live a short distance away, so we decided to go forward. We felt our big SUV could handle the rain.

By 8:30, we asked for our check, overhearing various conversations about road closings, flooding, detours on Route 206, and general growing concern over the torrential rainfall. Route 518 was wet, but not flooded in the least. When we approached Route 206 we made the decision to continue going straight. 

As we neared Bedens Brook, the water was about a foot high. Driving slowly, it became higher rapidly and we decided to turn and go back toward Route 206.  At that precise moment a tsunami of water came crashing against the side and bottom of our car, causing the engine to die. The water was halfway up the doors of the car, preventing us from opening them. Our next thought was to open all the windows (just in case). Keep in mind it was pitch black and all this happened in less than 3 minutes.

Realizing this had become a dangerous situation and while discussing our possible options, we noticed a man approaching our car in waist high water, wearing a hoodie and additional heavy duty rain gear, obscuring most of his face. Out of breath, he hurriedly stated we were in danger of the car rolling over.  As he spoke, I recognized his voice. I exclaimed, “Darek?!” He said, “yes, who is this?” I said Susan and Frank, and with that, the car started to float. He commanded us to immediately climb out the window.  My husband, who was driving, climbed out first and I then scooted over. As I poked my feet out the window Darek grabbed them, pulled me out, and then carried me the 30-40 yards back to dryer land where he had left his car. 

After getting us safely settled inside his car, he proceeded to go back into the turbulent flood waters to help other stranded people, some standing on top their cars, terrorized. By the time he finished his rescue work the flood waters had reached his shoulders. 

He drove us home. Upon saying good night, he continued to his own home where his wife and two children awaited him. When Frank and I came through our front door we realized that the serendipitous nature of what had just taken place had saved our lives.

This amazing man’s name is Darek Kulikowsha, a Polish immigrant and local shop owner — an unsung hero of that fateful night. He and his wife chose America to live in and raise their children. My husband and I are so very grateful. God bless him and God bless America for attracting people like him from around the globe. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Susan Pizzi
Mountain View Road