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‘The angels were watching over her’: Burton man who says he helped with Cass River rescue describes heroic effort

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:46 PM EDT
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TUSCOLA CO., Mich. (WJRT)- “I didn’t know if somebody was dead. I just couldn’t think... just react.”

That reaction may have saved a 20-year-old’s life.

In our continuing coverage on the dramatic situation that unfolded Saturday on the Cass River near Frankenmuth, ABC12 managed to track down one of the men who says he was involved in the harrowing rescue. A group of good Samaritans stepped in with no regard for their own safety.

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.

“She’s lucky to be alive for all that,” Edison Ferguson related. “That’s a heck of a drop there… I’d say the angels were watching over her.”

Yet not all angels have wings. Ferguson told ABC12 he was on his way home from the Frankenmuth Auto Fest Saturday when two men in pickup trucks flagged him off the road. He met this crew Tuesday near the scene at Ormes and Lewis.

“It was up to the bottom of the car, kind of even,” Ferguson motioned in the direction of the river.

Now with a clear view of the car below, he knew they had to act quickly, but between rescuers and the nearly submerged wreck yawned a steep 20-30 foot embankment. With no time for second thoughts, the Burton man said he reacted instantly.

“I came down this way,” Ferguson described his route down the slope. “I couldn’t walk, so I just slid and got down there and just jumped in… Don’t know how hard she hit, the impact to flip it. I’ve just never seen anything like that before.”

Ferguson described fighting against the current, trying to pry open the car door.

“Couldn’t open the driver side door so I went to the passenger, got it open, the back door,” he related. “By that time the other two man had come down, They pried the driver’s door open, went down cut her seatbelt and had her out. I just searched the rest of car make sure there wasn’t anybody else in there.”

“What was going through your mind as you saw these deeps ruts in the ground here?”

“I thought it was going to be a lot worse,” he responded.

And so it was a sense of deep relief that washed over him, Ferguson said, after the other rescuers carried the unconscious woman to shore. She sputtered up the water in her lungs and finally spoke.

“Was there any thought of ‘I’m putting myself in danger by going down there and going into the water?”

“No thought,” Ferguson quickly replied. “Just trying to help whoever was in there.”

“You said you were raised that way?”

“Yes. Always help others, be good to everybody,” he said.

ABC12 learned from the Frankenmuth fire chief that the driver—a 20-year-old Fairgrove woman—had been taken off her ventilator Tuesday. Ferguson offered up a humble parting message.

“I hope you’re alright... I hope everything will be alright from here on out,” he related.

“What do you say to the people out there who are calling you folks heroes?”

“It wasn’t heroic,” Ferguson said. “I was just helping somebody out, making sure they’re safe and okay.”

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