First responders enter icy water to save driver

February 01, 2018 06:50 PM

THURMAN - The call for help came at around 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Giles Jennings, 75, was driving down Cameron Road as he has 10,000 times before. Jennings told NewsChannel 13 by phone from his hospital bed Thursday that he had to swerve.

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"Nothing but deer running over the road. I swerved to avoid them and next thing you know I was in the brook."

Jennings’ SUV went off the road, down the embankment, and crashed through the ice of the stream which dumps into the Hudson River.

Thurman Fire Chief Jeremy Bradway says Jennings' Ford Explorer rolled over, but fortunately, landed back wheels-side down."

The fire chief says after a time, Jennings got out of his car and into the chest-deep water and tried to get up the bank to safety, but couldn't.

Jennings told rescuers that he'd been there for more than an hour when a passerby stopped at a nearby stop sign and heard his screams for help and called 911. 

The Thurman assistant fire chief was the first to arrive and made his way to the roof of the partially submerged SUV, then Warren County Sheriff's Deputy John DeCristofaro showed up and immediately went into the water.

Both first responders were able to get Jennings onto a basket that was lowered by firefighters and they used a ladder as a bridge from the car to the roadside.

Jennings was able to talk at the scene, but was rushed to Albany Med where he's listed in fair condition Thursday night and grateful to his rescuers.

"He would've been in very bad shape. He was definitely unable to self-rescue. Somebody needed to assist him," said Bradway. "It just worked out that somebody happened to see him and was able to make the call so we could all come together and do that."

Warren County Sheriff Bud York says this was an example of police and firefighters putting themselves at risk to save others.

"Had those guys not gone out there and pulled him out of the water, he could've went under the ice, he could've died of hypothermia," York said. "What they did, they're definitely heroes."


Mark Mulholland

Copyright 2018 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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