Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lake County Sunken Vehicle Rescue Success


 Woman saved from sunken pickup by fast action of passersby, emergency personnel

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Northshore Fire Protection District firefighters place Ann Adams, 71, of Lucerne, Calif., in an ambulance after she was rescued from her pickup, which went into Clear Lake and sank, on Thursday, March 21, 2013. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 LUCERNE, Calif. – The fast and determined actions of several passersby, a sheriff’s lieutenant and fire personnel saved a Lucerne woman from her pickup after it went off the highway and sank in Clear Lake Thursday afternoon.
Ann Adams, 71, was pulled from the vehicle after it went underwater, according to witnesses at the scene.
The California Highway Patrol’s initial report said the incident occurred shortly before 2:30 p.m. just west of Lucerne.
Lucerne resident Doug Arnold said he had followed Adams’ pickup from Lucerne as it traveled westbound on Highway 20.
He said he saw the pickup weaving before it went across the lanes of traffic and shot off into the lake, not even going down the embankment.
In keeping with Arnold’s account, no tire tracks could be seen on the soft embankment where the CHP said the pickup entered the lake.
Arnold said he swam out to try to help Adams – the pickup was about 50 feet offshore – but the doors were locked and the windows closed. He said he told Adams to unlock the doors.
Unable to get her out, Arnold said he swam back to shore to try to get help and look for something to break out a window.
Frank Haas of the Callayomi County Water District was driving by and saw Arnold waving. Haas pulled over, turned around and came back to the scene, and called 911.
As he was on the phone with 911, Haas said the pickup sank, with Adams still locked inside.
“It went down fast,” Arnold said.
Haas, in his work truck, pulled out a sledgehammer which was used to help extricate Adams.
Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Chwialkowski arrived, and Haas said Chwialkowski pulled off his uniform and swam out to the pickup, using the sledgehammer to bust out the pickup window.
Also going into the water to help was Laura Carr, an emergency medical technician with Northshore Fire who had been dispatched to the scene.
Arnold and Haas said a few young men riding bicycles who had been passing by also swam out to help.
A group of people could be seen clustered around Adams as they brought her to shore, placed her on a gurney and put her into a Northshore Fire ambulance. Traffic was briefly held up as first responders worked at the scene.
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A Northshore Fire Protection District Dive Team member Keith Hoyt prepares to go into Clear Lake to help recover the pickup driven by Ann Adams of Lucerne, Calif., that went into Clear Lake on Thursday, March 21, 2013. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
CHP Officer Nick Powell said Adams stated that she had been trying to get comfortable in her seat in the pickup when the crash occurred.
He said it appeared that her pickup’s passenger side wheels got caught in the drainage ditch when she slightly went off the highway, and she overcorrected at full speed, causing her to go across the highway and off into Clear Lake.
Powell said Adams had a possible fractured right arm and a laceration to her left leg.
She was flown by REACH air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Powell said.
After the rescue, with Adams safe in the ambulance, a battalion chief went up and put an arm around Carr, whose black uniform was soaked from having been in the water.
Chwialkowski, in black shorts and t-shirt, his gunbelt slung over his shoulder, also was wet from head to toe. As he walked from the scene Powell said he anticipated he would recommend Chwialkowski for an honorable mention for his lifesaving efforts.
Northshore Fire Dive Team members arrived at the scene, with divers Keith Hoyt and John Rodriguez  swimming out to place a tow line on the pickup, which was out of the lake shortly after 3:30 p.m., at which time the incident was terminated.
Original source article: Woman saved from sunken pickup by fast action of passersby, emergency personnel


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