Unknown Samaritan rescues motorist from icy river
The driver of a 1988 Toyota 4-Runner that swerved into the frigid American River west of Silver Fork was rescued by a good Samaritan before hypothermia could have the chance to kill him, authorities said.
The name of the driver and his rescuer were unavailable by press time. The accident was reported at 11:10 a.m. Tuesday and closed Highway 50 for an hour, said Officer Dave Blood with the Placerville branch of the California Highway Patrol.
The 4-Runner was traveling westbound on pavement made slick from snow and inclement weather, Blood said. The road conditions and speed of the 4-Runner likely contributed to the truck losing control and plummeting down a 50- to 60-foot embankment, landing on its wheels but facing the flow of the river that runs parallel to the highway.
Rocks to control river erosion inflicted heavy damage on the truck, authorities said.
“The vehicle must have rolled over multiple times because it just destroyed (the truck),” Blood said.
“With the water flowing like it did (water) filled the cab of the vehicle, windows breaking out,” he added.
The unidentified rescuer braved the current, entered the truck from the heavily damaged cab and pulled the driver from the vehicle, Blood said.
The officer guessed the driver would have died from hypothermia in six minutes if he remained in the water.
“That river was freezing,” he said.
El Dorado County sheriff’s Sgt. Bruce Rosa praised the good Samaritan.
The driver, who may or may not have been wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, was transported by helicopter to Sutter Roseville Hospital. The good Samaritan didn’t hang around the scene, either.
“He mysteriously slipped away,” Blood said. “Some people are like that, I guess.”
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