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The last words Neil Filipowicz heard from his cousin were, “I’m not leaving daddy.” † † hours later he pulled their bodies out of the basement, locked arm in arm after Sandy snatched them away

At Sandy’s height, the last words Joseph Filipowicz heard from his twin brother were “I’m not leaving daddy”… hours later their bodies were retrieved from the basement

  • Father and son were under 12 feet of water within seconds of Sandy’s attack
  • Family describes horrible moment when they discovered their bodies in dark basement
  • Son refused to leave his father’s side despite warning to evacuate
  • Deaths on Staten Island now up to 19 after the superstorm
  • Dad’s brother was a 9/11 firefighter but said ‘nothing compares’ to this family loss

A son was found drowned in his father’s arms in the icy waters of Superstorm Sandy after telling relatives, “I’m not leaving daddy.”

John Filipowicz, 51, and his son John, 20, were found still holding each other in their basement while shielding themselves from the stream that covered them with 12 feet of water in seconds.

Relatives said the two had an “incredible bond” and would never have been separated – in life or in death.

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Family tragedy: John Filipowicz Sr.  and his son, John Filipowicz Jr.  (right) were found buried under rubble in the basement of their home

Family tragedy: John Filipowicz Sr. and his son, John Filipowicz Jr. (right) were found buried under rubble in the basement of their home

Tribute left outside the Staten Island, New York home of John K Filipowicz and son John C Filipowicz who drowned in the basement during a flood caused by Superstorm Sandy.

Tribute left outside the Staten Island, New York home of John K Filipowicz and son John C Filipowicz who drowned in the basement during a flood caused by Superstorm Sandy.

The basement of the house where father and son drowned when the storm hit

The basement of the house where father and son drowned when the storm hit

Brother and Uncle Neil Filipowicz standing in front of the Staten Island house

Brother and Uncle Neil Filipowicz standing in front of the Staten Island house

Neil Filipowicz said the watermark was at least three meters high

Neil Filipowicz said the watermark was at least three meters high

'He was my rock': Christine Filipowicz hugs a friend outside her house

‘He was my rock’: Christine Filipowicz hugs a friend outside her house

John the elder stayed behind to watch over his home in Staten Island, New York, but his son refused to leave because he wanted to be by his side.

Death means Christine, wife of John the eldest, has lost her husband and her other two children Joseph, twins of John junior, and Cali, 16, have lost a sibling and their father.

The deaths were among 19 fatalities on Staten Island from Superstorm Sandy, more than any other New York borough. The total death toll in the US currently stands at 108.

Other victims included Connor and Brandon Moore, four and two, who were swept from Mama Glenda’s arms by a giant wave on the east coast of the island.

John Jr: Relatives said father and son had a special bond

John Jr: Relatives said father and son had a special bond

The Filipowicz family lives on Fox Beach Avenue, one of the hardest hit streets on Staten Island, where another 51-year-old unidentified man died.

Neil Filipowicz, 46, brother of John the eldest told MailOnline that his brother had decided to ignore evacuation warnings after last year’s hurricane Irene and a storm in 1992.

The family went today to inspect the devastating site where their loved ones had died.

He said, “I spoke to Joseph and he said that that day he tried to persuade him to leave. He was on the phone and told John (the son) to leave the house. He said to him, ‘I’m not leaving daddy’.

“There was no question of him leaving his father at home. It was a bond as it should be with your children, between a son and a father. They loved each other so much. They had an incredible bond.’

Neil, a retired New York City firefighter who served on 9/11, said the family was concerned when they couldn’t reach their father or son during Monday night’s storm.

Neil went to their house at 7:30 the next day, looked around the house and saw that his brother’s keys and wallet were on the table, but there was no trace of them.

Neil, Christine and other family members then went to local hostels and when they found nothing, Neil went back to the house alone.

Neil said, “I crawled through a hole in the wall the water had made. I shone my flashlight from right to left and then I saw a hand to my left.

“I prayed it was a doll’s hand, but I reached into the water and grabbed it and my cousin came up.

“My brother came forward too, he had his arm around the back of his head and was protecting him.

Son John (left) refused to leave his father's side

Son John (left) refused to leave his father’s side

John Filipowicz Jr (back, right) pictured here two years ago with family members

John Filipowicz Jr (back, right) pictured here two years ago with family members

Twin brothers: Joseph (right) urged John to leave the house, but John jr replied, 'I'm not leaving daddy'

Twin brothers: Joseph (right) urged John to leave the house, but John jr replied, ‘I’m not leaving daddy’

“I pulled them both on their shirts at the same time and a neighbor came to help me take them off and we put them on the side of the house until they were moved by the National Guard and the coroner.

“My cousin held my brother and my brother pressed him to his chest as if they knew they were dying.

‘My brother protected him. Their eyes were open. My brother looked intense, as if he was still trying to fight the end and be the father and protect his son. My cousin was so scared.

“The waterline on this one was ten feet high, but I think it must have been much higher.”

Neil said the two men were in the basement because they were “checking things out” – others on the street had a small breakout while doing the exact same thing.

Neil said, “I know my brother had some sandbags outside, he used some expandable foam on the back door. No water came through.

“All the foam had to come out, probably he was checking it and maybe he heard a crack in the structure, but then it broke, the rush of the water, that pressure.

Some of the cinder blocks are on the other side of the basement. To be pushed like that, they fired like a cannon.’

Neil fought back tears, saying that he served as a firefighter in New York City on 9/11, but that “nothing compares to this for its proximity.”

Neighbors knew Jan the Elder as the ‘mayor’ of the street because he took care of them by helping to clear the street in winter.

John jr in the picture with a friend

John jr in the picture with a friend

In turn, they called him the family name ‘Flip’. In tribute to his brother, Neil said, “My brother was all about family. Even our friends were considered family, it was like an extended family.

“He was a United States Marine of high school. He served in Greneda and then worked in the New York City Corrections Department and from there he retired and worked for the Concrete Laborers Union for a while.

‘He was a great family man, he loved his wife and children very much. In recent years he drove a bus for school children.

“He was a football coach, a basketball coach. He was also a school baseball coach and was a churchgoer, he was a regular at St. Charles Catholic Church’ Neil described John’s son as a ‘prince’ who did ‘anything for everyone’.

He said, ‘He was the heir of who his father was. He did everything right. He was never in trouble, he did everything right. He was devoted to his girlfriend. He went to university and took the fire service exam, he tried to improve himself and he thought about becoming a nurse.’

Speaking to MailOnline outside her home, Christine wiped away tears as she said she hadn’t fully accepted what had happened to her family.

She said, ‘I’m just being strong for my kids. It’s a shock, I go in and out. I’m just trying to keep it together. I have a very good family. ‘John meant the world to me.

“He was my rock. He was my rock. He was a family man and my poor son was only twenty.’

VIDEO: Staten Island residents feel ignored and forgotten…

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