Hero saves man from sinking car | AspenTimes.com

Hero saves man from sinking car

Steve Benson

An Aspen man is being lauded as a hero by the Aspen Police Department for saving a motorist from drowning after his car crashed into a pond on the Aspen golf course Saturday. The driver of the car, who was not identified by Aspen police because of his medical condition, suffered a stroke while driving downvalley on Highway 82 around 5 p.m. His girlfriend, also not identified, was in the passenger seat, according to Sgt. Steve Smith of the Aspen Police Department. “When [his girlfriend] saw he was in distress, she grabbed the wheel of the vehicle and turned it,” Smith said. “But she couldn’t stop the car.” Smith said the woman steered the car down Truscott Place and bailed out before the car crashed into the pond on the 18th hole. But her boyfriend was still inside and was unresponsive. Rob Carney, a manager at Paradise Bakery in Aspen, was nearby the accident scene, but was initially unaware of what had happened. “I was going to go for a run around the golf course, and I got out in front of Truscott and this girl ran up to me and said her boyfriend had a seizure and drove his car into the lake,” Carney said. “She took off running, and I ran with her.” Carney said when he arrived the car was mostly underwater, the windows were up, the man was unresponsive and the woman was screaming. He said he waded through the water, climbed on top of the car and began yelling at the man to roll down the window.”He was just looking at me, he didn’t understand what was happening,” Carney said. “The car started sinking, so I jumped back on shore and grabbed a rock and broke the driver’s side window.”By that time, the water was up to his chest.” Carney said the man was still confused and began backing away from him, so “I just grabbed him by his collar and yanked him out.”Carney said he swam the man to shore and he and the woman removed his soaked coat. “There was literally nobody else around,” Carney said.He then ran back to his apartment and grabbed some blankets. “He had thrown up a couple of times, once onshore,” Carney said. “He had never had a seizure before and the poor guy was just stunned. He didn’t remember anything, not even driving.” Meanwhile, it was getting dark and the car had sunk almost entirely. If it weren’t for the headlights, which were still on, Carney said you’d never know a car was in the pond. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance arrived. Smith said the man was released from Aspen Valley Hospital later Saturday night.He said the woman and Carney made the best of a bad situation. “I don’t think you could ask for it to end any better,” Smith said. “In light of the actions she took, and how it ended up, you can’t complain. I wouldn’t criticize any of them.” As for Carney, Smith said he’s a hero. “I certainly tip my hat to Mr. Carney,” he said. “Without thinking twice, he jumped into the water and helped a stranger.”He certainly embodies what we look for in an officer at the department – the value he places in a human life.” Carney said he did what anybody would do if faced with the same situation. “I had to do it, there was no question. The poor guy was helpless,” he said. “Anybody else would have done the same thing. I’m just glad that I was in the right spot at the right time.” Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com

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