DELAND, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The Florida Highway Patrol said the action of a trooper and 2 fast acting civilians saved a Deltona man’s life Friday morning when a medical emergency sent him driving into a retention pond.
At about 7:40 a.m., troopers said Walter Boyles began experiencing a medical episode while on westbound I-4, passed out behind the wheel, and his vehicle drove into the pond at State Road 46-A.
Two witnesses stopped at roadside and Lt. Kim Montes said the passer bys jumped into the pond and began trying to get the man out of the truck. When Trooper Roberto Ortiz arrived on scene, he saw the two people struggling with the vehicle as it quickly sank into the murky water.
"And I just jumped in,” said Ortiz. “It was natural instinct to go in."
Ortiz said via phone Friday that he got on top of the truck and broke one of the windows open. He said he and the others tried to get the man out through a window, but his seatbelt wouldn’t come free and the truck was now sinking faster.
Ortiz said the truck eventually went completely under the water with the man inside. The rescuers had to go under as well trying to get him free. The trooper still wasn’t quite sure how Friday afternoon, but the three of them succeeded and pulled the man out to shore safely.
Boyles was transported to a local hospital and was expected to recover. Trooper Ortiz also went to a local hospital due to an elevated heart rate, but said he was doing well just hours after the situation.
Ortiz and his fellow State Troopers said they give all credit to those citizens who acted quickly and certainly saved the man’s life.
"They did not even look at what the risk was to them; they did not hesitate, they just jumped in,” said Lt. Montes. "It kind of restores your faith in humanity that there are people out there willing to put their own lives at risk."
"We're trained to do certain things, but thank God I had somebody next to me that kept their composure,” said Ortiz.
The citizen heroes, a 35-year-old Sanford man and a 29-year-old DeLand woman were unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.