'Training definitely kicked in': Edgecombe County detectives explain what it took to save driver who crashed into creek

EDGECOMBE CO., N.C. (WTVD) -- Three Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office detectives returned to the creek where they performed a heroic water rescue.

"It was surprisingly deep right here," said Detective Matt Johnson as he walked along the edge. "It was over my chest and I'm 6'5, so that's a lot deeper than we thought it was and anticipating it being."

The men jumped into a creek on US 64 Alternate outside of Tarboro to save a woman who crashed into the water.

"We could see that she was alive and breathing and she was talking to us, so we knew she was semi-stable," said Johnson.

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Edgecombe County detectives explain what it took to save driver who crashed into creek

When the detectives arrived, they could see the woman was profusely bleeding. She had injuries to her legs and could not get out of the car.

"Training definitely kicked in," said Detective Wade Spruill.

"At that point it wasn't a matter of who was going in, it was who could get there first," said Johnson.

The vehicle was mangled and the murky water camouflaged the twisted metal.

The driver was stuck in a seated position and the water was up to her neck.

"When I got in, I had the rope tied around my waist because I just didn't know how deep it was," said Detective Leroy Shaw.

The detectives started tossing off equipment that would weight them down.

The creek was swollen from all the rain and the freezing temperatures tested their endurance as they tried to rescue the woman for an hour.

The driver, who was in her late thirties or earlier forties, was alone in the car. Officials aren't sure what caused her to careen off the road.

When she was pulled out, she was in and out of consciousness after losing so much blood.

"We've been out on quite a few accidents where the outcome wasn't as good and anytime that the person is conscious and alert and talking, you know it's a good chance that person will pull through," said Shaw.

Several other emergency responders joined in to help save the woman's life and get her to solid ground.

"Even though we don't train together with these agencies a lot, everyone just formed a cohesive unit and the main thing was just getting her out at any cost," said Shaw.

The woman was rushed to the hospital. ABC11 was told she's in stable condition but does have injuries.

The detectives are hoping to visit with her and meet again after the intense water rescue.
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