‘They gave that patient a fighting chance,’ Volusia first responders detail heroic canal rescue

Good Samaritans helped push a vehicle in a canal and save the driver

OAK HILL, Fla. – Thanks to an act of heroism from quick-thinking good Samaritans and first responders, Volusia County officials said a woman has a chance at life.

“We don’t decide what happens at the very end for that patient, but they gave that patient a fighting chance,” said Volusia Fire Battalion Chief Chris Davis.

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Investigators said on Tuesday, a woman was driving down Maytown Road in Oak Hill when her car veered off the road and overturned into a canal. They said other drivers who saw the wreck, stopped, called 911, and then jumped in.

“When I walked up, I saw the vehicle on its side, they were actively trying to push it over, so I jumped in to help the civilians in the water,” said Volusia Sheriff’s Deputy Doug Meyer.

Meyer’s body camera showed that effort. Both he and Deputy Jacob Adle got to work, too.

Then came Volusia firefighters Nick Corrente and Rob Hamel.

“A vehicle in a canal is not necessarily an everyday occurrence. We do get them in a ditch, we do get them in water, trapped upside down is not everyday training,” said Hamel.

They said instinct kicked in, though.

“I’m shocked and in awe that they were able to get it done and flip it over,” said Adle.

Body camera video from a Volusia County deputy shows the efforts to rescue a woman after her SUV went off the road and into a canal.

They got a task done that they say typically would take heavy, mechanical equipment.

“They secured it to trees, that’s all they had at that point was to secure the vehicle to trees,” said Davis.

Davis said the crews got the woman out of the car in record time.

“There was zero delay. Getting her out, putting her on a backboard, stabilizing her,” he said.

News 6 also spoke to one of those citizens, Andy Wasko.

“The real hero I think was the pregnant lady who called 911 and then handed my wife the phone and said I’m coming in with you,” he said. “Every person who was in that water pushing pushed as hard as they could. As hard as they could.”

Deputies said the woman was unconscious but had a pulse.

In a situation where seconds matter, these first responders say the good Samaritans helped give her a chance.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it if they weren’t there. We would have had to call for additional units possibly,” said Corrente.

UPDATE: The Florida Highway Patrol reported Friday evening at 5:24 p.m. that the woman was pronounced dead at the hospital.

About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.