On Thursday, DeFelice was going for his usual morning row in a single scull on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia when he heard wheels screeching on the shore, followed by a small bang. It was the sound of a Toyota Corolla that had been traveling eastbound on Boathouse Row, which runs along the riverbank. The driver had lost control of the car, which crossed a grassy median and plunged into the cold water.
"I look over my right shoulder, and I see this car rolling backwards into the river," DeFelice told Fox29 News in Philadelphia. "What are the odds of that happening when I'm rowing by?"
"The kids were like, 'We can't swim, we can't swim in here,' and it seemed like in a matter of seconds they were underwater," DeFelice said. "It was an instinct reaction -- I jumped in and swam to where the car was."
By the time DeFelice reached the car, the two had managed to get themselves out. But because they couldn't swim, they were having a great deal of difficulty and kept bobbing under the water. DeFelice reached one of them, grabbed him and started swimming toward shore.
"When I first got there, he was frantic. He hugged me and dragged us both down," DeFelice told Good Day Philadelphia. "I just tried to get him to relax."
The other young man was struggling, and DeFelice knew he wasn't going to be able to help him in time. He started yelling toward the shore for more help. A cyclist who had been watching the scene unfold jumped into the water without hesitation and swam to the young man in time to save him.
With the help of other rowers on the water, DeFelice and the cyclist were able to get the two men safely to shore.
The two young men were treated for hypothermia at a local hospital and are in stable condition, thanks to two strangers who risked their lives.