Manny Kourinos of Falmouth was out removing mooring balls last November when he saw a car slip below the surface of the water near East End Beach in Portland. Within minutes, he was in his diving gear and pulling the unresponsive driver from the water. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

A Falmouth man who last November rescued a woman from a submerged car after she drove it off Portland’s East End boat launch into the ocean has been awarded Falmouth’s 2023 Citizen of the Year Award.

Manny Kourinos was out on his lobster boat on Nov. 16, 2023, when he and his assistant saw what they thought was a car in the bay. As they approached, they saw it was, indeed, a car slipping below surface. A few emergency responders were already in the water, but divers were not there yet, making Kourinos the closest person at hand with scuba gear.

“Without even thinking I told my helper ‘go get all my gear down below’ … I got into my gear faster than I’ve ever done before in my life,” he recalled during a phone interview this week. Once under the water, he was able to free a woman trapped in the driver’s side of the car and bring her up to the surface, where emergency service personnel were able to revive her. Kourinos is credited with saving her life.

In another episode last spring, Kourinos helped rescue a couple who had fallen out of their sailboat about a quarter-mile out from the Falmouth Town Landing, he said.

The Falmouth Citizen of the Year award honors Kourinos’ bravery and commitment to public service. He also has received the Humane Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Lifesaving Award, the Good Samaritan Award from the Portland Fire Department and the Portland Police Department’s Citizen Award for the November rescue, according to the town.

Kourinos grew up in Falmouth and as a youth, he’d spend summers fishing with his father, who was a part-time lobsterman. After graduating from Falmouth High School, he became a commercial fisherman. He started Atlantic Mooring Services in 2004, servicing moorings from the Portland Harbor to Harpswell, he said. He’s now a longtime fixture at Falmouth’s waterfront and is a member of Falmouth’s Harbor/Waterfront Committee.

“Manny’s regular presence at Town Landing and on the water has resulted in a very close working relationship with Falmouth Police and Falmouth Fire-EMS. His regular presence there has also saved lives,” Falmouth Town Council Chair Hope Cahan said in presenting the award to Kourinos at a recent ceremony.

Kourinos wears a small cross once owned by his late father. In 2003, his father accidentally sunk his boat in Casco Bay and was found by chance by a fisherman. A family friend later gave his father the small cross to wear, Kourinos said, to remind him that “someone was looking out” for him that day. That cross was with Kourinos during the rescues, he said.

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