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Lake Mahopac Hero Teen To Receive Liberty Medal, State's Highest Honor

Cullen Malzo will be honored with the New York State Liberty Medal for saving two teen girls from drowning following a car accident.
Cullen Malzo will be honored with the New York State Liberty Medal for saving two teen girls from drowning following a car accident. Photo Credit: Contributed

MAHOPAC, N.Y. --  The heroic teen from Lake Mahopac who jumped into cold waters to save two girls from drowning following a car accident, will be honored by  State Sen. Terrence Murphy with the New York State Liberty Medal.

Cullen Malzo, 19, will receive the award during the Wednesday, Dec. 7, meeting of the Carmel Town Board at 60 McAlpin Ave., in Mahopac at 7 p.m.

The New York State Senate Liberty Medal is one of the highest civilian honors that a New Yorker can receive. The award is given to individuals who have performed exceptional, heroic, or humanitarian acts and achievements on behalf of others.

"I am deeply honored and slightly overwhelmed," Malzo said about receiving the award. "It just feels good knowing what could have happened and what did happen."

"What Cullen did was extraordinary," " said Murphy. "He could have stood by and waited for someone else to act, but he knew whoever was in that car was in danger. He focused on saving those two girls and was willing to go to whatever extent it took to help them."

Cullen was standing in his driveway when two 17-year-old girls came speeding down North Lake Boulevard, traveling 50 mph in a 30 mph zone, when the driver lost control of the car. It had hit a utility pole and flipped over, landing upside down in Lake Mahopac.

Malzo didn't think twice about jumping into the murky waters of Lake Mahopac on Thursday, Nov. 10, after witnessing the accident.

After calling 911, Cullen ran into the lake and found himself immersed in thick mud, but he could hear the two teen girls screaming from inside the car.

Diving into the mud and water, Cullen found a hole in the passenger side window of the car and was able to reach the passenger and pull her out of the window. He then had to search for several minutes before finding the driver's foot and pulling her free.

"Cullen is a brave young man. His quick actions and fortitude saved those girls lives," said Carmel Town Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt. "He displayed nerves of steel. He acted without hesitation or concern for his own safety.

"He had the presence of mind to call 911 while he was running toward the accident and thought about picking up a rock to break open the window. I know our community appreciates what Cullen did. I hope everyone will come out and show their support on December seventh."

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