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'I was completely underwater': First responders who pulled family from sinking truck recall daring rescue

1 month 20 hours 7 minutes ago Tuesday, January 26 2021 Jan 26, 2021 January 26, 2021 11:00 PM January 26, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

UPDATE: A 4-year-old victim has died a day after crash. Read the full update here: https://www.wbrz.com/news/toddler-dies-day-after-being-pulled-from-truck-that-crashed-into-canal

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ST. AMANT - First responders rushed to the scene of a crash involving a submerged vehicle with three individuals, including two children, trapped inside Wednesday morning.

The wreck was reported shortly before 3:30 a.m. on a bridge along George Lambert Road at Highway 429 in St. Amant. Officials said a truck carrying two adults and two children over-corrected and ended up crashing into the New River Canal.

One of the adults in the vehicle managed to crawl out, make their way up to the roof of the truck and call 911.

Louisiana State Police worked alongside first responders with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, Gonzales Fire Department, St. Amant Fire Department, and Acadian Ambulance to recover all four people. Officials said emergency personnel jumped into the canal to pull the victims out.

"Two firefighters and a sheriff's deputy jumped into the water and got the children out of the vehicle and started performing CPR on one of the children and on the driver of the vehicle. And we were told they got a pulse back on both of them," a State Police spokesperson said. "So, at this time, all of them are alive." 

Officials later told WBRZ that one of the deputies assisting in the rescue punched the truck's glass to get the trapped victims out and broke his own wrist in the process. 

The sheriff's office praised the officers credited with rescuing the people inside the vehicle.

"We just all have the same mindset that no matter what we're doing, we're going to do whatever we can to go help whoever we can, wherever we can, however we can," Sorrento firefighter Shane Wellman said.

Multiple agencies responded to the call in under five minutes. Two sheriff's deputies, Jamie Wolfe and Daniel Haydel, jumped into the water to help. Sorrento firefighters, Shane Wellman and Jeff Kelly followed quickly behind.

"I dove in and swam to the truck. I was completely underwater. We did what we had to do to get the patients out," Kelly said.

"Jeff Kelly jumped in right behind me. We got one child out, and as soon as we got that child to the bank we got the other child out," Wellman said.

You can see still see the scars from the rescue all over Wellman's arms.

"The scars are just from trying to help break the windows out," he explained.

According to State Police, as of Wednesday morning, two of the passengers are hospitalized in critical condition and the other two are stable.

When asked what led to the crash, police explained, "With the weather conditions like this, it plays a factor and the crash is still under investigation."

Authorities added that alcohol may have played a role in the accident, but it is still under investigation.

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