Good Samaritans rescue woman from car overturned into Cass River

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 10:10 AM EDT
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TUSCOLA COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan State Police credit several men with rescuing a woman from a car that overturned into the Cass River on Saturday afternoon.

The 20-year-old woman from Fairgrove was driving west on Ormes Road near Lewis Road in Tuscola County around 4:50 p.m. when she failed to negotiate a curve, went off the road, overcorrected, drove back across the road and rolled down an embankment on the north shoulder into the Cass River. The deep ruts on the side of the road painted a grim picture. The embankment along this stretch of the Cass River measures roughly 15-20 feet above the water’s surface. The sheer height renders the scene virtually invisible from the road.

A group of everyday people, investigators said, had managed to pull off something of a miracle.

“There are curves there on Ormes Road,” Frankenmuth Fire Chief Phillip Kerns related. “[The driver] most likely overcorrected, I’m thinking, coming out of that curve and found a spot along the river that didn’t have many trees that otherwise would have stopped her.”

A snapshot posted to Facebook by the Frankenmuth Fire Department showed how desperate the situation that unfolded along this remote stretch of the Cass River Saturday truly was. When her car came to rest, the driver – identified by Michigan State Police as a 20-year-old Fairgrove woman – was left stranded upside down, trapped by her own seatbelt in the rushing, chest-high current.

Miraculously, another group rounding the same curve had seen the accident occur. According to investigators, they descended the steep embankment and managed to free the driver from her seat belt with a pocket knife. By that point, she was unconscious.

“[They] got her out of the vehicle, took her to the side of the river and began compressions on her and within a couple of compressions, she started coughing and coming to,” Kerns said. “I would say just in the nick of time.”

Emergency responders took it from there, carting the 20-year-old up the steep embankment and into a waiting ambulance. Her rescuers, however, had disappeared.

Police did not identify the men who rescued the woman, but investigators thanked them for helping bring her back onto dry land.

ABC12 independently tracked down the man who reached into the car and cut the driver free. His wife said they didn’t want the recognition. Her husband had simply been in the right place at the right time and done the right thing. Yet looking down at the rushing current below and the risk that undoubtedly awaited them. The word hero comes to mind.

“We have some people here who went above and beyond,” Kerns explained. “It probably would have been several minutes if not hours before somebody would have discovered that vehicle… God gave us that instinct to act when we felt we needed to.”

The driver was still listed at Covenant Hospital Monday, according to Chief Kerns, who told ABC12 he had spoken with her mother. The Fairgrove woman remained in the CCU Monday.

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