MOUNT LIBERTY — It was raining Saturday night as 18-year-old Trevor Clark drove to Mount Vernon from Centerburg to play guitar with his band, Fermium.
Woman rescued after pickup goes into pond April 26, 2010
The pickup truck traveling in front of him kept swerving, slowing down and speeding up. The erratic driving made Clark think the driver was possibly drunk. After making a 9-1-1 call to report the driver, Clark watched the truck leave the right side of the road, go over an embankment and into a pond on U.S. 36, just south of Mount Liberty.
Clark immediately pulled over.
“When she first went in, I was on the phone with the [dispatcher],” Clark said.
Two other vehicles then stopped to see if Clark needed help before the drivers realized a truck was in the pond.
“We were asking [the driver] if there was anyone else in the car and directing her to get out of the car. She couldn’t get her door open,” Clark said, referring to 66-year-old Sue Kimble of Mount Vernon, who was returning home from a visit with her daughter and her family in Cincinnati.
Mike Holt of Mount Vernon, a former EMT, was the first in the water. By this time, Kimble had her window down half way and was pleading for someone to save her dog.
“She’s holding her dog out the window saying, ‘Save my dog. Somebody save my dog,’” Holt said. “I grabbed the dog and just kind of pitched it. I figured it’s a dog, it would swim.”
At this time, Holt said, the water was up to Kimble’s chin. He tried to open the door but it wouldn’t budge. Her seat belt also failed to release.
“The truck is still sinking. Now the water is barely at the bottom of her nose. I’m trying to hold her head up as much as I can,” Holt said.
“The truck started sinking. The lights got dimmer and dimmer,” said Bobby Fitzsimmons of Mount Vernon, who also stopped to help.
It was then Holt said he needed help. Without hesitation, Clark and Fitzsimmons rushed into the water and swam 20 feet to the truck to help rescue Kimble.
Clark tried to open the passenger side door but was unsuccessful.
“[Fitzsimmons] reached through the same window I was reaching in and got up under her arms to try and lift her,” Holt said.
Kimble remained trapped as the water filled the cab of her truck. Attempts to release the seat belt were futile.
“We were helping hold up as much of her body as we could. We had to hold her head out of the water because the entire truck was under water at that point,” Clark said.
Emergency personnel had arrived at the scene when Holt decided it would be best to cut Kimble out of her seat belt with his pocket knife.
“By this time she was completely underwater,” Holt said. “I gave her a couple of breaths to try to keep her going, but she went limp in my arms.”
Holt described the next few harrowing seconds when Kimble was released from her seat belt, the two of them sinking toward the bottom of the pond and the struggle he and Fitzsimmons endured trying to get Kimble to the bank.
“We start pulling her to shore thinking, ‘Man, somebody’s got to help us because this lady is really heavy and it’s too much for him and I just to do this,’” Holt said. “I heard a splash. It was my 17-year-old daughter, Victoria, to help us get her to the bank.”
It wasn’t the first time Victoria was in the water that night.
Victoria and her younger sister were directed by their father to stay in their vehicle when they arrived on the scene. However, when Victoria saw her father direct Kimble’s dog to the shore, she said she felt compelled to retrieve the 3-year-old Bichon Frise named Abby.
“When I saw dad put the dog in the water, I took my shoes off, ran and jumped in to get the dog,” Victoria said. “That’s when she turned the other way to go back toward her mommy.”
To Kimble’s family, the four are now heroes by happenstance and maybe even a little fate.
“They are certainly heroes. I can’t believe what they did,” said Mary Ringwalt, Kimble’s daughter. “To jump into a pond and go down with a sinking car deserves kudos big time. … I just don’t know how to thank them.”
A hero’s badge was certainly not something the group was looking for, or even wanted.
“We were trying to wait until the fire department got there,” Fitzsimmons said. “When the truck started going under, we had no choice. The poor woman was crying out to us.”
For Holt, it was the unselfish efforts of two teenagers that really brought the whole night into perspective.
“The idea that two high school kids had to take over when only one fireman ended up in the water — that’s really something,” Holt said.
“It was all worth it in the end,” Clark said.
“I am the kind of person that is going to try to help somebody else,” said Victoria, whose cell phone was ruined when she jumped in the pond.
The Holt family will continue to take care of Abby until Kimble is back on her feet. According to Ringwalt, Kimble has a long recovery ahead of her, suffering from a broken back and pneumonia.
Clark, a senior at Centerburg High School, will study music business at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind., this fall. His hopes to build a career managing bands.
Victoria, a junior at CHS, is still deciding whether to attend a college with good track and cross country programs or an art school.