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Man talks about rescuing people from car in bayou

3 years 5 days 18 hours ago June 18, 2014 Jun 18, 2014 Wednesday, June 18 2014 June 18, 2014 8:39 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Brittany Weiss

GONZALES - A few days after an SUV carrying two people drove off of Coontrap Road and into New River, people are talking about the dangers the road brings for drivers.

"It's a fairly smooth road, but people speed through that curve," Gonzales Fire Chief Tracy Normand explained.  Normand says this isn't the first time this has happened.

A sign and flashing light were added near the curve after a truck went into the bayou with a bulldozer. The lights help warn drivers to slow down to 35 mph, but few pay attention.

"[They] are the ones who are crashing," said Normand.

There has been discussion of adding a guardrail at the curve, but Normand said that wouldn't help.

Robert Phillipe jumped in the water to rescue the two people in the SUV Monday night. He agrees with the chief.

"Maybe running into the water is better than hitting a barrier at 40 mph," said Phillipe.

"I just took my boots off and jumped on in," Phillipe said, recounting the evening's events that left him soaking wet. 

Phillipe navigated though about two feet of water and another foot of mud. He was able to open the car door and assist a woman who was stuck inside the half-submerged SUV.

"She was not in imminent position of drowning, but she was in a high degree of emotion and at that point I felt the best thing to do was for her to get out of the vehicle and to get on the bank where she could feel safe," he said.

Police said the driver failed to follow a curve in the street on West New River Street, just before it turns into Coontrap Road. After missing the turn, the driver drove into the bayou.

Police say the driver was arrested on scene, for suspicion of DWI.

The rescue was caught on video.  Watch it HERE.

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