THE man accused of failing to help a mother search for her two Irish-American boys after they were swept away during Superstorm Sandy has moved out of his house.
Neighbours in Staten Island, New York, said surgeon Alan Ferretti is staying with family members as the controversy rages over his apparent failure to help Glenda Moore whose two boys, Connor (4) and Brandon (2), died in the storm.
Mrs Moore and her two sons were trying to get to relatives in Brooklyn when their SUV got stuck in flood waters.
The boys were swept from their mother's arms by the raging waters.
The devastated mother has told police that she went to Mr Ferretti's home, knocked on the door and pleaded for help. When she could not get in, she tried to break in through the back door using a flower pot.
Mr Ferretti has denied that a woman came to his house on Father Capadanno Boulevard on the night in question and he told CNN that he thought it was a man who threw the concrete flower pot at his door.
When the Irish Independent called to his house there was no one at home. One neighbour said the surgeon had gone to stay with family.
The man, who declined to be named, described Mr Ferretti as a "nice person".
"He volunteers on the block. I don't see him as a person who wouldn't help.
"Everyone has the wrong idea. When the incident occurred, the wind was howling, he is upstairs and someone throws his flower pot through his window.
"He's already a nervous person," he added.
"They didn't identify themselves or ask for help. He finds out afterwards that that person most likely needed help, but they didn't ask for help. He's on guard after they threw the flower pot."
The incident has sparked a major debate in the US about assisting people in need. In the state of New York there is no legal obligation to come to someone's aid.
Speaking to CNN, Mr Ferretti said: "I never saw anybody, I only saw the man.
"He didn't ask to come in, he asked me to come out and help him."
Asked if he did go out to offer assistance, he replied: "What could I do to help him? I had a pair of shorts on with flip-flops."
When told that the two boys had died, Mr Ferretti said: "Of course it's a tragedy, absolutely. It's unfortunate.
"She shouldn't have been out though, it's one of those things. She shouldn't have been on the road.
"There's nothing I could do. I'm not a rescue worker. The mayor said 'don't endanger the lives of rescue workers'. If I would have been outside, I would have been dead."