Woman rescued in canal after crash in Walnut Creek

April 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
There was a dramatic rescue in a fast moving Walnut Creek canal Sunday night. It began after a car with three people on board flipped into a canal.

Crews are still looking for the body of one of the victims. They do believe that two men were killed, but one woman survived after being dramatically rescued. Crews said that two victims went down the canal, but the man they spotted looked unconscious, so they focused their attention on the woman.

"At that point we saw another victim that was coming down who was alive and waving. So we turned our attention to the victim we thought we had the best chance of rescuing," said Contra Costa Fire Batt. Chief Alan Hartford.

The woman floated for over two miles in the canal while crews raced to get ahead of her. They finally caught up to her after she went over a small waterfall.

"She was trying to hold her head above water, and eventually succumbed and was pulled below the surface," said Hartford.

A rescue worker was lowered down to her from a CHP helicopter, but the water was churning too much for a rescue. The helicopter lifted the rescuer back up and carried him downstream to rescue her.

"He detached from his hoist line, grabbed the victim and swam her to shore," said Hartford.

The woman is at the hospital and is reportedly alert and talking.

Upstream their car had plunged into the canal off Lincoln Avenue in Walnut Creek at about 6:15 p.m. Sunday night. It floated upside down about 300 yards.

"The gate over there, where they went in, it looked like it was pretty hard to do, so, I don't know how they got down there really," said Walnut Creek resident Chris Chreston.

Several apartment buildings line the path of the canal so dozens of people stood and watched as crews tried to get the car out of the water.

"We thought there was somebody in it. So we were all sad and looking out the window," said Walnut Creek resident Jessica Holmoe.

It took two tow trucks to pull the car from the canal. Investigators did find the body of a man inside. The third victim is still missing.

"We feel that this is a body recovery mission at this point, and we do not know where this person came from, other then they came from the vehicle itself, or went in the water somewhere in between here and there," said Hartford.

Police are still trying to figure out why they went into the canal in the first place. Officials said that it was pouring rain at the time of the accident.


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