Woman speaks out after SUV lands in river - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Woman speaks out after SUV lands in river

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A woman is speaking out hours after she and and her friend were rescued when the sport utility vehicle they were in plunged into the New River, early Friday morning.

The two women in a blue SUV went into the water at Cooley's Landing, located at 450 S.W. 7th Ave., at around 4:30 in the morning.

The driver was taken to Broward Health Medical Center in stable condition. Passenger Angela Connely explained what happened when the vehicle took a dangerous turn. "I had just woke up because the girl who was driving, she was panicking," said Angela Connely.

Connely said she knows she is lucky to be alive after taking a dive into the New River during the early morning drive. "I'm not really sure what happened," Connely explained. "I woke up, and I was in the water. I didn't understand what was going on, so I just opened the back door, and water was rushing in."

They crawled out of the vehicle and into the fast-moving water. The driver, who could not swim, began to yell as she held onto a concrete pillar, waking boaters.

Good Samaritans came to the rescue. A woman who asked not to be identified said she jumped into the water. "There was someone that needed help in the water. She said she couldn't swim. It was a pretty good current," she said. "Where I come from, that is what you are supposed to do. You help somebody that needs help."

"They saw the one girl get out of the car," said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Timothy Heiser. "They assisted her out, and then they went into the water as the car drifted east about 100 feet and assisted with getting the other female out of the water."

Another Good Samaritan who chose to remain anonymous recalled the scenario. "It was just one wave, and then I heard a scream," he said. "The one lady was [with her] hand clinging onto the dock, and then Marty went down there. The other lady was clinging onto the last pylon over there."

Once Fire Rescue determined nobody else was in the water, the dangerous task of pulling the vehicle out of the river began. Pat Elia of Westway Towing explained the crane they used to remove the SUV. "It's a 75-ton rotator," he said. "We could probably do almost anything with it. Just another day. We do this all the time."

Even though this is not something that happens here every day, people who live nearby said they were willing to risk their lives to help. "They're very lucky," said Heiser about the women. "At this time of the day, today actually, we have a very strong outgoing tide."

Heiser praised the Good Samaritans. "They're heroes for risking their lives to go into this water," he said. "They really should be commended for their actions in assisting these two ladies in getting out of the car."

Officials said the driver claimed she thought she was turning onto Interstate 95 when she took the ramp into the water. I-95 is located two miles from the site of the accident.

The accident remains under investigation. Police have not released the driver's name or any charges she may be facing.

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