A pair of Good Samaritans battled against the San Gabriel River to save the life of a man who was stuck inside a sinking truck Tuesday morning.
Keith Dodson, a Seal Beach construction manager was basking in the outdoors, enjoying a morning hike when he witnessed a truck plunge into the river. Ryan Gordon from Redondo Beach was on the second story of a major bank that he works at as financial advisor saw it too. Near a Pacific Coast Highway Bridge a few hundred yards shy from the Pacific Ocean the truck began to sink.
Without a moment of hesitation Dodson and Gordon dashed to the scene to make a rescue.
According to the Patch, the men began the rescue at about 8 a.m.
“I was jogging on the bike trail, and I saw something big slide into the water,” said Dodson. It contained a 42-year-old Placentia man, who was trapped.
At a first glance, Dodson was under the impression that the sinking object may have been a dumpster. However, when he realized it was a truck with a person trapped inside, he sprinted 50 years towards the truck.
Gordon too, at almost the exact same moment, ran down the stairs of the bank he was at and dove into the water dressed in slacks and a dress shirt.
“I was able to see the guy struggling to get the doors open,” Gordon said.
The driver made attempts to exit the vehicle but accumulated water pressure against the doors prevented them from being opened and the electric windows became non responsive. He then tried to squeeze out of a small manual window at the back of the truck’s cab which wasn’t yet submerged, but it was two small for his shoulders to get through.
“I kept telling him, ‘you’re going to have to try to kick out the windows,” said Gordon. Then Dodson swam over to them with a large stone he picked up from the jetty.
“The truck was sinking slowly and being pulled out toward the ocean,” said Dodson. “I got to the passenger side window, which was about a quarter submerged. I struck the window with the rock, but it didn’t break. By my third try, I punched through the window. The truck sank instantly and sucked me down with it. The water pressure sucked my upper torso to the window.”
Dodson though he was going to die.
“I wouldn’t have ever believed it could go so wrong so quickly. From the point where I smashed the window to where the truck sucked the driver and myself under water was probably three seconds,” Dodson said. “When I got sucked against the car, I had a quick life-flashed-before-your-eyes kind of moment.”
After water filled the cab, Dodson reached in and pulled the driver through the window and back to the surface. Using each other’s help, the rescuers helped walk the driver to the shore. Neither, however, thinks of themselves as heroes.
When authorities and firefighters arrived to the scene to questioned the driver, he was not too sure as to why he ended up in the water. All he remembers is having felt ill and traveling to work in his 2005 blue Ford F150 then pulling into a parking lot at the 6700 block of PCH only to be awakened by the sound of his vehicle plunging into the water.
It is suspected that the driver may have inadvertently hit the gas pedal and drove through the chain link fence then into the water. If he had taken tainted medicine that morning prior to driving, then that may have had some sort of side effect on his judgment.
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