A passing motorist is being credited with quick thinking after calling 911 to report that a vehicle was partially submerged in the raging waters of the Yakima River in Washington on Sunday just after 6 p.m.
According to a report from The Associated Press on March 17, Yakima law enforcement and fire personnel responded and rescued a passenger in the vehicle just as the waters overwhelmed the car. Investigators have not said how the vehicle ended up going off Donald Wapato Road and into the Yakima River.
Witness Art Gonzalez, who was watching the rescue from the shore with his girlfriend, said one man swam from the car and made it to safety, but the other individual was stuck in the sinking car, which had been pushed over 60 feet from the shore.
“He was in the passenger side, knocked out from what I saw, then all of a sudden he started moving,” said Gonzalez.
The Yakima sheriff's Swiftwater rescue boat arrived and was able to haul the man into the bow of their boat and pull him to safety. The man was taken to a hospital where he was treated for hypothermia and injuries related to the accident.
Sgt. Chad Peterschick with the sheriff’s office said the rescue took about an hour, and that no other personnel were injured.
“The victim was rescued and nobody else was hurt,” Peterschick said. “There’s a very strong current. We want to be able to get to the victim as quickly and safely as possible, but we don’t want to create any extra emergencies by losing one of our people at the same time.”