Neighbors save woman who drove into pool

January 11, 2009 5:35:21 PM PST
It was a rude awakening for a Solano County family Sunday morning when a car drove off the interstate and landed in their backyard pool.

Neighbors were being praised Sunday night for their quick thinking after pulling a woman from her submerged car.

The accident happened Sunday morning in Benicia, inside a backyard pool located about 25 yards from Interstate 780.

The driver has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

"I'm thinking, 'Please don't die in my pool. Please don't die in my pool," said Danny Lei.

Lei woke up to a chaotic scene Sunday morning. An Acura was submerged in his backyard swimming pool and the driver trapped inside. Music from her stereo was still blaring as the car sunk deeper into the water.

"It looked like a hurricane just ripped through the yard. I look over to the right and I see the tail lights sticking out of the pool," he recalled.

Neighbors also heard the crash and dove in to try to save the driver, 43-year-old Yvonne Campbell from Concord.

Bruce Miller was the first one in. Together, the neighbors and two drivers held on to the car to keep it from floating to the deep end of the pool.

"We hit the window with the bar and it didn't break, even on the one side. We had to get a hammer. We finally broke the window," said Miller.

Police and firefighters bent the metal car door back and pulled her out.

"A team of people on the side of the pool assisted in resuscitating her on the side of the pool," said Peter Fiori with the Benicia Fire Department.

"I really thought she was dead. I watched her go under. I watched her face sink. I'll think about that tonight," Miller said.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the case as a possible DUI.

Campbell, who is active duty military, is in stable condition. A pile of empty beer cans and a vodka bottle floated out of her car after the crash.

Neighbor Susie Gogas watched helplessly.

"She was aware that the window was open and she had her eyes open. It looked like she was looking straight at me through the water," she said.

Living this close to the freeway, neighbors say they have had cars roll into their backyards or stop right by their back fence at least half a dozen times in recent years. The last incident was just a few months ago when neighbors had to give CPR to a person whose car landed right behind their backyard.

Lei has written letters to various agencies asking for a barrier to be built. Photos he took a few years ago show a fiery crash right on the edge of his property line.

"They all agree that something needs to be done. But, nobody will pay for it," he said.

He is hoping that changes now.