Autoblog Minute

Good Samaritans rescue driver from sinking car in Florida

A pair of good Samaritans and three police detectives saved an elderly Florida man from drowning in his car after it crashed into a pond this week. According to Port Saint Lucie police, Hixford Banton was traveling westbound along Port Saint Lucie Boulevard in Port Saint Lucie when his Mercedes sedan was struck by another motorist attempting a turn on to the street from Arioso Boulevard. The collision caused Banton to lose control of his Mercedes. In his confusion, he ran off the road, drove across a lawn, and crashed into a pond in front of the town's City Hall.

James "Randy" Brazier was across the street when he heard tires screeching, and turned to see Banton's Mercedes go into the pond. He rushed across the busy street, jumped into the pond, and swam to the rapidly sinking Mercedes to save the driver. Once Brazier reached the car and opened the door, it immediately capsized and sank to the bottom of the pond.

"When I got to the guy, he was real scared, so I told him to calm down, " Brazier told the TCPalm newspaper. "I opened the door and got him out, he panicked, took us both under and then I hit the bottom, pushed ourselves back up."

Brazier was assisted by another passerby named Charles Proulx, who waded into the pond to help the struggling men. Three Port Saint Lucie police detectives–Stephen Reuther, Peter Chunn, and Maiga Auguste–arrived soon after with a rescue ring and helped to pull the men out of the pond.

Once everyone was ashore, salvage divers were brought in to locate the car and pull it out of the pond. Thanks to the murky water and the pond's surprising depth, roughly fifteen feet, it took divers nearly thirty minutes to locate the car. Later, at the police station, Banton said that he had yet to meet his rescuer.

"Somebody I have yet to meet came in and helped me. He came to me and he said, 'I got you, I got you, are you ready?'" Banton said. "And he opened the door, and I just went out." Banton also stated that he could not swim, and that he would have died had Brazier not come to his aid. Soon after, the two were reintroduced under less stressful circumstances.

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