Cambridge Fire Department The car submerged in the river
A pair of coaches from Northeastern University were in the right place at the right time when they witnessed a man drive his car into a river and were able to pull him to safety in Massachusetts.
"Proud of Trevor Appier and Beatrice Sims for their heroic actions tonight along the Charles River," wrote the team from the private university in Boston.
The incident unfolded just before 7:40 p.m. on Flagg Street and Memorial Drive in Cambridge, which is located right on the Charles River, according to the Cambridge Fire Department.
Police believe the man — only identified as a 23-year-old resident of Exeter — suffered a medical episode before driving his vehicle off the bridge and into the river, CBS affiliate WPRI reported.
Cambridge Fire Department Dive teams searching for any other people in the water
Witness Mark McDermott told Boston independent station WHDH he was jogging in the area when he saw the car plunge into the water.
"It was frightening," he recalled to the outlet. "I'm thinking to myself, 'Is the person driving it OK?' A woman and her child had just walked by, so we're talking a matter of five seconds between that car going 30, 40 miles per hour right by."
Following the incident, witnesses on the bike path told WPRI that the driver rolled down his window and waved his hand out for help.
Luckily, Appier and Sims happened to be on a boat nearby and were able to respond to that man's call for help.
"I was like, 'Oh, that's an accident happening.' and then it just kept going and we were probably 10 feet away as it plunged into the water," Appier recalled to CBS affiliate WBZ-TV.
"We ended up throwing out life jackets to the person that was in the car," Sims added, per WPRI.
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As the car slowly began to sink, the coaches moved their boat closer and helped pull the man onto their boat before calling 911, according to WBZ-TV.
Cambridge Police confirmed in a tweet that they quickly responded to the scene, along with Cambridge Fire, Cambridge EMS and Massachusetts State Police, but the driver — who was the lone occupant in the vehicle — had escaped from the sinking car by then.
Dive teams later helped remove the vehicle from the river, with the Cambridge Fire Department posting photos of the scene on their Twitter page. WBZ-TV reported that the car was submerged for approximately two hours before officials could get it towed.
Following the incident, the man had no memory of what occurred and even asked the crew coaches what happened, according to WPRI. He was later transported to Boston Hospital with minor injuries, per the outlet.
Massachusetts State Police are investigating the incident, WHDH and WBZ-TV reported.
As they reflect on the dramatic ordeal, all three witnesses are feeling grateful that nothing worse occurred.
"I'm just thankful everyone's okay, especially the woman and the child. They were the ones that narrowly escaped," McDermott told WHDH.
"You're sort of in shock when it happens" Sims explained to WBZ-TV. "But being able to react appropriately in a situation like that is something that we do train for and we do prepare for because you never know what is going to happen out there on the water."
Added Appier to the outlet: "If we had not been passing by and he had not known how to swim, potentially, I don't know that that could have gone as smoothly maybe as it did."