Suffolk police officer Craig Capobianco didn’t expect any of this.
He didn’t want any awards, media attention, or any recognition of the sorts. He actually was unsure if he wanted to go surfing that morning, but something got him out of bed at 6:30 a.m. to go to Gilgo Beach.
“God had me in the right place at the right time,” said Capobianco, who saved the life of a 24-year-old surfer last month.
On Wednesday, Babylon Town honored the police officer with its top-honor, the Heroism Award, at Town Hall for rescuing Huntington native Mia Imbesi after she sustained life-threating injuries from her surfboard.
“[Capobianco] went out on July 28… and he saved a life,” said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer at the award ceremony. The crowd erupted with clapping and cheers.
“We don’t do what we do for credit or recognition, we just get out there and do it and then move on to the next,” said the Lake Grove resident after the acknowledgment, “I am very grateful and humbled.”
As previously reported, Capobianco, 24, was off-duty surfing when he watched Imbesi take a nose-dive into a wave. She emerged from the water looking pale with a deep laceration on her lower body. She was in desperate need of help.
“She had about an 8-inch laceration on her leg,” Capobianco told GreaterBabylon. “Her board’s fin punctured her thigh down to the muscle.”
The East Islip native immediately went into “first responder mode” where he grabbed and swam her to shore, about 250 meters away.
“There were so many people ready to help, including lifeguards,” said the police officer, who serves in the Fifth Precinct. “Someone ran up to me with gauze.”
She was later sent to Good Samaritan Hospital, where she received 54 stitches.
Before joining Suffolk County’s Finest, Capobianco served four years in the Marine Corps as a reconnaissance scout. He was stationed in Southern California, where he soon picked up the action water sport.
“I am not the best surfer but I can swim,” said Capobianco with a laugh.
Now, don’t be surprised if you see Capobinaco joining Imbesi in the waters once she recovers from her injuries.
“She is now a good friend of mine,” he said, smiling.
Top: Suffolk County Police Officer Craig Capobianco with Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer during his award ceremony.