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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Elderly Woman Veers Off Road and Into Frigid River: Police Save Her Moments Before Her Car Sinks

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Just a few days after Christmas, on Dec. 28, an 85-year-old woman in Coventry, Rhode Island, found herself in a life-or-death situation.

A police report referenced by WJAR stated that the woman was driving along Sandy Bottom Road when she swerved to avoid another car.

The woman may also have hit the gas, causing her to careen over an embankment and directly into the frigid water of the South Branch Pawtuxet River.

After receiving the emergency call regarding the accident, Coventry Police Department officers Corey Benton and Stephen Fernandez — as well as an unnamed supervisor — headed to the scene at about 9:00 a.m.

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When they got there, they spotted the driver — who was, thankfully, conscious and alert — but they knew she wouldn’t be able to get out by herself.

The two officers plunged into the cold, chest-deep water and swam out to the car, which was steadily sinking.

“We kind of knew that we had to go in and get her before the vehicle sank,” Benton told WJAR.

“Very, very cold,” he added of the water. “Definitely took your breath away for a second.”

“At the time that we got there, the car was kind of like nose-down into the water,” Fernandez said. “But we could clearly see that this nice young woman was still above it.

“She was responsive to us, she was answering our questions, but we — you know, given the temperature of the water — we knew we had to get her out.”

The officers managed to reach the car, open the door and pull the driver out just as the car slipped beneath the surface of the water.

“As we got her out onto the embankment, the vehicle pretty much sank right then,” Benton recounted. “So, we’re glad that we were able to get her out when we did.”

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The Coventry Fire Department was soon on the scene and took over from there, assessing the woman. Fire Chief Frank Brown said she was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but overall she appeared to be in good shape. The officers were also checked out for hypothermia.

Brown also said it was a bit of a miracle that the incident happened during daylight hours.

“She was lucky,” he told WPRI-TV. “Good thing it was that time of day and people saw her go in and she wasn’t out there at midnight or 1 o’clock.”

“This was a team effort all the way around,” Fernandez added, according to WJAR. “Their quick action really determined how they could get her out without any injury or hypothermia.”

The driver has since been released from the hospital, and the crash is still under investigation.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking