A Lincoln, Nebraska, police officer was aided by two good Samaritans to rescue a driver from a submerged vehicle after the man crashed into a pond on September 10 in southeast Lincoln, Nebraska.
Police say that witness Jordan Kurtzer called 9-1-1 after seeing a pickup truck splash into a large pond near 75th Street and Pine Lake Road.
Kurtzer knew that time was of the essence.
“I knew (the pond) didn’t have a fountain, so when I pulled up, I saw a truck floating in the pond, and my first thought was, ‘We need to get him out,’” Kurtzer recalled.
35-year-old Kurtzer immediately jumped into the pond and swam towards the pickup truck, along with another good Samaritan who wished to remain anonymous.
Kurtzer said he then used a tire iron that the other man brought from his car to break the truck’s rear window after finding that all of the doors were locked. When he finally unlocked the rear passenger door, the truck filled with water and began to sink further.
“Once we got the rear door open, that’s when the truck started to flood with water and sink,” Kurtzer said. “I was able to get into the passenger side rear door, unlock the passenger side front door, and (the other man) got in the front.”
Kurtzer then unbuckled the driver, who was conscious but unresponsive and moved him out of his seat toward the back of the truck.
“I knew we weren’t going to be able to go over the center console into the passenger side. When I got his seat laid back, I noticed there were life jackets floating in the backseat.”
Kurtzer, a metal worker by trade, said he was able to get the life jacket around the man’s arms while holding on to him to stay afloat.
“I knew right outside the door I couldn’t touch (the bottom), and we were probably 15–20 feet away from shore, and I wasn’t sure if I could hold him to the point that I could touch,” Kurtzer said.
While the two men were struggling to swim the driver back to shore, Sergeant Tu Tran of the Lincoln Police Department came to the rescue.
“When I first arrived, the truck was maybe just a couple feet underwater, but I could tell that it was sinking slowly,” Tran recalled.
Tran jumped into the pond immediately and was able to stand near the back of the vehicle. Grabbing onto the driver, the three men were able to pull the driver to shore.
On the way to the shore, Tran got snagged by a fishing lure, but Kurtzer was able to complete the rescue.
“I’m not surprised, but very proud just to see a citizen help another citizen,” Tran said. “It’s nice to see people still willing to help each other out.”
Police say the cause of the crash was a “medical episode.” The driver was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover.