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'The Car Is Sinking!': Good Samaritans Risk Lives to Rescue Woman Whose Car Plunged Into River

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Good Samaritans who witnessed a car sinking Monday in a river in Willimantic, Connecticut, jumped into action and risked their lives to help pull a woman to safety.

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Jim Preston and Manny Gonzalez lifted the female victim out of the car and helped usher her out of the river channel, WTNH-TV reported.

The two formed a human chain of sorts to help make the rescue possible.

“Manny took off his shoes and reached over to the lady and grabbed her by the hand, and I grabbed Manny by the back of his pants and held on to him,” Preston told the outlet. “And we got her up to where she could get up enough where I could get her hand also, and we pulled her up out of the sunroof.”

From there, he said they slid the woman over the car and then “picked her up” and helped get her situated on top of a rock.

That’s when Willimantic firefighters brought in a ladder and ropes to help complete the rescue before transporting the victim to a hospital for evaluation.

Willimantic Fire Chief Marc Scrivener said in a Facebook post the accident unfolded after the woman was reportedly in a nearby parking lot troubleshooting an accelerator issue with her vehicle.

“One way or another, she rapidly accelerated and launched into the river — apparently unseen,” Scrivener wrote. “A patron came out of the El Guanajuato restaurant, heard her yells for help, and noticed her in the river. The patron re-entered the restaurant asking for help.”

That’s when Preston and Gonzalez, the restaurant owner, ran outside and took action.

“Seeing the car and driver in the river, they slid down to the waters edge and pulled her from the sunroof of the car,” he wrote.

No other victims were inside the vehicle at the time.

A 911 caller who reported the incident told emergency services, “The car is sinking,” with many praising the good Samaritans for their life-saving actions.

Scrivener was among those to offer accolades to Preston, Gonzalez, and 911 caller Kristen DeGray for their quick-thinking assistance and compassion.

“These THREE embody the best spirit of Willimantic: we all look out for each other,” he wrote. “I’m proud of them, and I’m proud to be from Willimantic.”

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About The Author

Billy Hallowell writes for CBN's He has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in CBN News, Faithwire, Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite, PureFlix, and Fox News, among other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.