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Firefighters and Deputies Rescue Man From Submerged Car After 2-Vehicle Wreck at SR100 Exit Ramp

| January 2, 2016

sr100 rescue

A man was pulled without a pulse from a completely submerged car that had crashed into the retention pond at the northbound exit of I-95 at State Road 100 Saturday morning. Rescuers were able to revive the man’s pulse. (© FlaglerLive)

A two-vehicle wreck at 10 this morning at the northbound exit ramp of I-95 and State Road 100 ended with one of the two cars crashing into a retention pond and triggering a rescue of the driver by three Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies and four firefighters, who all dove into the 8-foot-deep waters.

Deputies were able to smash one or two of the submerged car’s windows. The driver, James Austin, 53, of Ormond Beach, was pulled out by Lt. Dusty Snyder of the Flagler Beach Fire Department, who’d just gone off duty and was driving home when, stopped at the traffic light on 100 and the northbound ramp to I-95, “I just happened to look to the south and see the car in the water,” Snyder said in an email. “It was truly a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

“I arrived on the scene at the same time as the Sheriff’s office personnel,” Snyder continued (correcting an earlier account that left the impression that he’d been first to go in the water.) “One or two of them were in the water before I was and were already working on breaking out the rear window to try to pull the driver out. He was still buckled in his seatbelt and we couldn’t move him from the driver seat until Engine 92 arrived with additional tools and swam them out to us so that the driver window could be broken. It is true that I was the one that broke the driver window and cut the seatbelt off, but everything else was a team effort for sure.”

Austin had no pulse and was blue when he was pulled out. Rescuers, who were in the cold water about 10 minutes, brought the man to the embankment and immediately provided CPR, reviving his pulse, before transporting him to Florida Hospital Flagler. Austin was stabilized at FHF then transported to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach, in either serious or critical condition, around 11 a.m. (He faces a careless driving charge.)

The wreck took place just after 10 a.m.

dusty snyder

Michael “Dusty” Snyder

Assuming Austin survives, he will owe his life to Snyder, Lt. Steve Cox of the Flagler Beach Fire Department, Flagler County Fire Rescue’s David Lawrence and Dennis Moore, and sheriff’s deputies Jason Neat, Richard Petrovsek and Ryan Emery, all of whom dove in the water in their uniforms. The deputies and Snyder were at the scene–and in the water–as the trunk of the car, believed to be a silver Honda, was just visible as it was being swallowed by the water. When it settled on the bottom of the pond, Moore said, “the roof of the car was about three and a half feet below the water.”

“They did a great job, an awesome job,” Capt. Richard Bennet of Flagler County Fire Rescue said at the scene. “It really shows you when the time comes for it they really work as a team, fire rescue, sheriff, Flagler Beach, it doesn’t matter what their badge says.”


Video: The Salvage Operation

The wreck involved a four-door Chevrolet Sonic and the sedan that went into the water–a silver Honda Accord. According to a Florida Highway Patrol investigator at the scene, the Honda was being driven erratically on I-95, going north, when it suddenly shot across three lines of traffic toward the exit, where it clipped the back of the Chevy as the Chevy had begun to exit. The Chevy ended up wrecking against a railing, then against retention wall of the highway, about 75 yards north of the point where the Honda crashed into the water. The driver of the Chevy, Seamus O’Conner, 40, from New Jersey, was not hurt, and was walking about at the scene.

Both vehicles were to be towed by Saxon’s Towing of Bunnell, with Saxon’s Robert Clark preparing to dive into the water around noon to hook the vehicle to cables so it could be pulled out. The Palm Coast Fire Police closed the exit ramp at 10 a.m. The salvage operation began at about 12:15 and took some 20 minutes before the Honda was pulled out.

Cpl. Emery, the sherif’s deputy, later noted that “there were numerous Good Samaritans who assisted and we were unable to thank any of them prior to departing from the scene.” He wanted to stress his and other deputies’ thanks to those good samaritans.

Snyder added: “As a firefighter we train for all sorts of fire and rescue emergencies constantly. The real heroes of this incident were the Sheriff’s office personal who don’t train for these types of incidents, but jump right in (no pun intended) and do what needs to be done to save a life.”

The Chevy. (© FlaglerLive)

The Chevy. (© FlaglerLive)

bennett cox

Capt. Richard Bennett of Flagler County Fire Rescue thanks Lt. Steve Cox of the Flagler Beach Fire Department. Cox was among those who dove into the water to save the victim. To Cox’s right was Lt. Jason Powell of Flagler County Fire Rescue, who was in command of the scene, and Dennis Moore, one of the firefighters who also dove in. (© FlaglerLive)

deputies rescue

Jason Neat, left, and Richard Petkovsek, still soaking from their dive into the water moments earlier. They were two of the three Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies involved in the rescue, along with deputy Ryan Emery. (© FlaglerLive)

robert clark

Saxon’s Towing’s Robert Clark had to go in to hook the vehicle so it could be pulled out. (© FlaglerLive)

university of tennessee wreck

A University of Tennessee baseball cap was among the victim’s possessions in the car, when it was retrieved from the pond. (© FlaglerLive)

jimmy flynt

Jimmy Flynt, owner of Saxon’s towing, with the Honda he’d just pulled out of the pond. (© FlaglerLive)

exit ramp closed

The exit ramp, from northbound I-95 to State Road 100, was closed for almost three hours, from 10 a.m. to close to 1 p.m. Saturday. (© FlaglerLive)

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45 Responses for “Firefighters and Deputies Rescue Man From Submerged Car After 2-Vehicle Wreck at SR100 Exit Ramp”

  1. Bc says:

    Nice work guys we are lucky to have you. It takes a special person to dive into cold dark water to save a life. Well done.

  2. thomas lewis says:

    Florida has a lot of hidden water ways,so always use a little more caution when driving in unfamiliar areas ,especially in bad weather..A important thing to remember,if you ever find your vehicle in water,don’t panic and try to open the door,it will be impossible to open the car door,pushing against millions of gallons of heavy water.Stay calm,allow the car interior to slowly fill with water,once the pressures equalizes,with water on both sides,you can then open the car door and exit.

  3. Tired of it says:

    Outstanding job to both the Firefighters and Deputies involved.

  4. D. Kennedy says:

    Great job everyone. That was as smooth as it could have been.

  5. fredrick says:

    Well done guys. We should all be proud and thankful for the group of men and woman we have looking out for us.

  6. Woody says:

    Welcome to Palm Coast

  7. Ashley says:

    I seen this happening as the car was still sinking! Very proud of the police and many by passers that stopped and jumped right in to try and help! Good job to everyone that tried helping. And awesome job Dusty for saving this man’s life!

  8. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Thanks to lieutenant Snyder and the other first responders this man has another chance at life. Hopefully they don’t catch pneumonia as a result of their heroism.

  9. joann featherman says:

    I have video of the rescue. My husband was the first in the water to try and rescue this man. He just missed hitting us and hit the man from nj.

  10. ScotchRox says:

    Congratulations to all of the first responders !

    THANK YOU !!

  11. DANSAYS says:

    Where are all the police haters now? Deputies dive in with 40 pounds of gear, ammo, and bulletproof vest to save a stranger. The one deputy has 3 kids and risked his life for a complete stranger! Oh, I forgot, he signed up for this! Great job guys. All heroes

  12. tulip says:

    I don’t understand why they don’t put guard rails at the the most susceptible entry areas of retention ponds and lakes near the roadways and parking lots. It sure would prevent most vehicles from winding up in the water.

  13. Marzieh says:

    I was there I was the one that called 911 and my husband and 2 other men jumped in to try to get the man out of his car but they could not break the window or get the door open so they got out and someone gave them a hammer they went back to the car and broke the back side window but by that time the fire men was there and they took over . Yes it was the firemen that got him out of the car so yes I thank them but it was other people that went into the water to help this man out of his car. I hope that he is OK and thank the people that helped

  14. Vincent A. Liguori says:

    I fully agree with Tulip’s comments regarding the placement of guard rails. The question is-who is responsible for the placement of guard rails adjacent to interstate and state highways? In this case, if it is the Florida Department of Transportation, I believe that the local municipality should initiate the process for guard rails at hazardous locations along these routes. Furthermore, local municipalities, should install guard rails on dangerous locations within their domain. One life saved is well worth the expense.

  15. Jane Austin says:

    This was my brother. I cannot find the words of gratitude I have for saving his life. You all are my heros, and I’m forever grateful! You will be hearing from me. Thank you so so much!!!!

  16. Bc says:

    Joann post the video. thank you to your husband for going in to help save this man.

  17. Jane Austin says:

    That was my brother. THANK YOU ALL INVOLVED in his rescue! You will be hearing from me. We think he’s going to survive. Again, thank you, I can’t express it enough!!!!!

  18. Barry Hartmann says:

    Woody, what does your post mean? I can only assume you mean a great place with caring people and heroic first responders!!!

  19. John Rumberger says:

    I was One of the three guys that were in the water I’m glad to hear that your brothers doing well please keep us informed .

  20. Jane Austin says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart! It is nothing short of a miracle and I believe God was working thru you all. Cannot express my gratitude enough! My life would not be the same without him in it. So grateful!

  21. Libby says:

    My boyfriend was one oh first people to jump into the water after hearing there was someone trapped in his car. He jumped the fence from Burger King and swam out to the car to try and help. Thanks to everyone who helped that day. You will all be heroes in my eyes.

  22. Libby says:

    My boyfriend was one of the first people to jump into the water we heard that someone was trapped in their car. He jumped the fence after we pulled over at the Burger King parking lot and swam out to the car to help. I’m so very proud of everyone who responded so quickly to help. You will always be heroes in my eyes.

  23. Jake says:

    Excellent job to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and Flagler County Fire Rescue members for a safe, successful save. Luckily, Flagler County Fire Rescue’s Ocean Rescue Division trains regularly for water related emergencies and this is just one example of where such excellent training and skillful execution pay off!

  24. Jane Austin says:

    My brother is still in ICU, so any prayers appreciated. If not for all of these brave men, he would not even have had a chance. He does now.
    I will keep you posted on his progress.
    Thank you ALL again, from me and my entire Family.

  25. hawcreekgirl says:

    Ryan Emery for Sheriff!

  26. Lisa Mrakovcic says:

    Many thanks to your husband, and the other unsung hero’s!

  27. Jane Austin says:

    John Rumberger, and ANYone else involved, Please accept my sincere gratitude in this rescue/save. I will never forget you all!! Angels walk among us!
    I hope everyone involved is okay and healthy. Thank you ALL

  28. Marzieh says:

    Jane please keep us posted on how he is doing and our prayers are with you and your family

  29. Jane Austin says:

    Marzieh, I thank you and your husband more than words can say! The hospital staff says that his progress is remarkable!! God Bless you all for your help!

  30. just me says:

    Amazing how many people drive like they are the sole owners of the roadways??? We should have higher fines and or confiscation of the vehicles from those who repeatedly and or dangerously disobey the driving laws.

  31. Anonymous says:

    So who pulled the guy out of the car deputies or passers by?

  32. Jane Austin says:

    To Just Me…..His car is history obviously. He almost, actually did, died. That’s your comment, really? smh

  33. Anonymous says:

    How is he doing Jane? Is he still in the ICU?

  34. Jane Austin says:

    Thx for asking….He got out of ICU and the staff says he is making huge progress! Again, I’m so very thankful to all involved!

  35. Bc says:

    Jane don’t let the idiots get to you as you can see you have many well wishers. So happy he is doing well stay strong. And as I said in my first post to post on this site we are very lucky to have people jump into dark cold warter to help save a life of a stranger

  36. Cindy says:

    So glad to hear he is improving! I saw the scene and have been praying since!

  37. InTheKnow says:

    Jake,
    I am fairly certain that Flagler County Fire Rescue has a “Marine Rescue” division, not “Ocean Rescue”. Ocean Rescue refers to the “ocean”, areas with “surf”. Flagler County is trained to perform rescue in all types of water i.e ocean, river, lake etc. I am also pretty certain that Flagler Beach Fire Department members are also trained and certified in Marine Rescue. According to the article, both departments were involved in the rescue as well as some bystanders, so please remember to give credit where credit is due.

  38. Jane Austin says:

    Neil is home and healing. Thank you ALL for your concern. I have written thank you notes to both departments. It doesn’t matter who says what. People pulled together, as a team, on natural instinct. Many were involved in this rescue. I can’t thank you enough!

  39. ANONS says:

    Mrs. Austin,

    If available the Flagler County BOCC is honoring some of the men that were involved in the rescue if you would like to attend. It will be Monday (2/11) night at the Meeting.

    Also, Thursday (2/14) night they will be honoring some of the men involved in the rescue as well. This meeting will be held in Flagler Beach..

    If Neil is stable enough to attend that would be Awesome. Glad he is recovering at home.

    Great job by ALL involved…

  40. ANON says:

    Correction on those dates, its this Monday and Thursday.. January 11th and the 14th…

  41. Jane Austin says:

    Thank you so much for letting me know. I live in Knoxville TN. Wish I could attend. I’m passing on this info to Neil.
    Thank you!

  42. Cindy says:

    Jane has your brother made a full recovery? That is so amazing!

  43. Jane Austin says:

    Neil has indeed made a full recovery, less than 2 weeks after these amazing ppl saved his life! He got a new car and went back to work this week. It’s all nothing short of a miracle. I can never express my gratitude enough to everyone involved!!!

  44. John Rumberger says:

    I’m so happy that Neil is doing great I wish him the best in the future thanks for keeping us informed

  45. Jane Austin says:

    Neil got to go and Thank “Dusty” today!!!! I have a pic, but don’t see how to post one. Made my Day! Feeling grateful and proud!

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