Rising ice-cold water had reached the neck of the 18-year-old driver of a flipped car by the time RCMP officers pulled the teenager to safety Monday morning.
Police have released more details of the dramatic rescue of the Chilliwack woman, whose Hyundai flipped upside down into a water-filled ditch on Gibson Road just before noon.
Mounties responded to a 9-1-1 call from the driver. She told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that her car was filling quickly with water and was already at her waist. Then the phone line went dead.
Police arrived on the scene to find the Hyundai lying in deep water with only its tires exposed.
Knowing time was running out, several Mounties entered the ditch in order to lift the car up to expose the back window. As they did so, another officer attempted to break the window with a punch. The first strikes were unsuccessful, but eventually the window gave way. The officer then pulled the woman to safety, with both needing to swim to the ditch's surface.
The woman was taken to hospital, suffering from Stage 1 hypothermia.
The RCMP have released neither the driver's name, nor those of her rescuers.
"By the time police reached me, the water was up to my neck," the victim said in an RCMP press release. "A bunch of the officers went in the water to lift the car and the next thing I knew I was being pulled out; we had to swim. I am just so grateful to everyone who was there yesterday to help me."
One officer received several stitches in his hand as well as a bad sprain, according to police.
"This is such a heroic act," RCMP spokesperson Const. Tracy Wolbeck said. "A lot of bravery and selflessness on the part of all the officers involved went into saving this woman's life."
Mounties say an ornament of a guardian angel was later found in the overturned vehicle, to the surprise of the driver. It was returned and now hangs on the driver's family Christmas tree.
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