A central New York man who pulled three drivers out of flood waters in his underwear claims he lost his job. His boss disagrees.

Michael Venettozzi was called to the Riverside Center in North Utica Saturday, August 17 after torrential storms flooded roads and parking lots. "When I arrived it looked like a raging river on the north side of the BJ's parking lot," he says. "I had to be almost completely submerged on my knees to hook up the car, so I decided to strip down to my boxers."

Photo by Kelly Tichenor

As Venettozzi was hooking up the car, another driver got stuck in the lot. "I got her out of the car before pulling the first vehicle to a dry place."

Photo by Kelly Tichenor

Once the first vehicle was on dry ground, Venettozzi says he told the driver to avoid getting back in it. "I warned her the battery and other things could explode and moments later the airbags deployed in a loud bang."

Photo by Stephanie Tichenor

The drivers kept coming. As Venettozzi was hooking up the second car, a third vehicle became disabled. "I went back into the water to hook up and recover the 3rd vehicle too."

A day after pulling out not one but three vehicles, Venetozzi says he was let go from his job. "My boss said my poor decisions put his truck and equipment in extreme risk of being damaged. And he's right. But I don't regret helping people. I'll always value human life over a piece of equipment."

The boss, Craig George says that's not true. "I have no problem with Venetozzi and he was never fired. Our lawyer has advised us against saying anything more."

Photo by Kelly Tichenor

Venetozzi has heard every underwear joke imaginable in the last 48 hours but he'd rather be called Captain Underpants than a hero. "I just did what anyone would do," he said while choking back tears. "We have men and women overseas. They are the real heroes."

Michael Venetozzi Interview

Flooding at BJ's


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