MODESTO (CBS13) — Three bystanders pulled a woman to safety after she crashed her car into a canal. It happened around 7 a.m. Thursday on Briggsmore Avenue in Modesto.
Among the Good Samaritans were a father and son, both business owners, who were on their way to work when they spotted trouble. Art Mondragon Sr. owns Shady Tree Landscaping in Modesto.
He said he was on the way to work with his son, Art Mondragon Jr., who owns Shifty’s Speed Shop on Drake Avenue, on Briggsmore Avenue when they saw the driver of a Dodge van appear to lose control.
“I seen it go off the curb and kick up some dust and I told my son something is wrong with that van,” said Art Mondragon Sr.
What they saw next, they couldn’t believe.
“When my Dad said that, I looked in the mirror, took a glimpse and I could see the van shooting airborne,” said Mondragon Jr. “It was going through the dirt at a high rate of speed, probably 45 mph, and it just flew into the air and hit the water so hard it shot waves up probably about 30-40 feet in the air.”
The two said they knew they had to take action.
“We called 911 right away and turned around and got to there as quick as we could,” said Mondragon Jr.
“I went through the divider. I’m like on rescue mode because I’m thinking there’s kids in this van,” said Mondragon Sr.
As soon as they pulled up, Mondragon Jr. jumped out of the car and rushed over to the water.
“As soon as we got there another gentleman pulled up,” he said.
Modesto Police later identified the man in a social media post as Modesto accountant Mark Polkinghorne.
“We just looked at each other and I’m like I don’t got no rope and he just jumped in there. My son goes in after him, with clothes on and everything, and my son was on the passenger side, the other guy was on the other side,” said Mondragon Sr.
When the men got into the water, they said, the back of the vehicle was facing them so they weren’t able to tell how many people were inside.
“The current was turning the van that’s when we got a glimpse of the driver and she was unconscious,” said Mondragon Junior.
At this point, they said, the car had been carried about 150 feet by the moving water.
“We were trying to keep the car from moving. He (Polkinghorne) was banging on the window. He was the one that got her to actually wake up,” said Mondragon Jr.
When she woke, the men said the 28-year-old woman was up to about her shoulders in water.
“She woke up in a panic, the cab being filled with water and two men on each side of the windows trying to tell her to roll it down. She was very panicked,” said Mondragon Jr.
The woman was eventually able to roll down a window and the two men pulled her to safety.
“When our officers arrived this morning they were pretty moved by the fact that three random citizens stopped and helped this lady out of the canal,” said Modesto Police Spokesperson Sharon Bear. “The officer took a couple photos, sent them to us and I shared them on social media just to show people these are your neighbors.”
Bear said the men’s courageous acts prevented the woman from being further injured and may have even saved her life.
“I’m glad we were there to help her out because it could’ve been worse. You know? Someone may not have seen her car in there and kept on driving because it started submerging down,” said Mondragon Senior.
Police said the woman, who has not been identified, suffered minor injuries. She was taken to the hospital but is expected to be okay.