Survivor describes Walnut Creek canal crash

April 22, 2010 7:01:16 PM PDT
For the first time, Janet Hogan described what it was like as she helplessly floated down a Walnut Creek canal in churning water.

Janet, her husband Jim and their son Tim were on their way to dinner in the family Honda on Sunday evening, April 11 when their car crashed into the canal.

Janet was the lone survivor of the crash. She said 40-year-old Tim suddenly shouted out as he was driving: "He kind yelled out and kind of flailed his arms and then he passed out. I tried to pull his foot off the accelerator and Jim was trying to move the car over to the side of the road and he kept saying 'we are going to crash, we are going to crash,' and then the next thing you know we crashed," Hogan said.

At that point, the Honda crashed through a chain link fence and landed upside down in the canal. Janet told ABC7 she was able to open the car door and push her husband out, but Tim was still strapped into the driver's seat, unconscious. Janet found herself floating down the raging canal.

"I've always been a pretty good swimmer, so I knew that I could keep myself afloat," she said. "I had a leather jacket on and all the wood pieces and stuff like that were hitting the jacket."

Twice, Janet said she tried to grab for ladders at the edge of the canal and she was unable to hold onto the ropes that were lowered to her.

Finally, a CHP helicopter arrived and Contra Costa Fire Dept. rescue diver Dave Manzeck was lowered to Janet, who by now was underwater and unconscious.

"I heard the helicopter and I saw the policemen on the bridges and so I knew that help was on the way," Hogan said.

Asked about Manzeck, she said, "He is my savior forever more. All these guys risk their lives for people they don't even know and it just blows my mind."

Janet went onto to say that she is grateful, but also devastated by the loss of her husband of 43 years and her son.

The family is still awaiting test results to find out what happened to Tim inside that car that night. Janet said her son had no history of medical problems.


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