SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) -- An elderly man is lucky to be alive after driving his car into the waterfront last night in Southport. And it's all thanks to three young men who did not hesitate to jump in the water and free him from the sinking car.
It all happened in a matter of seconds. Southport Police say around 10:30 p.m. Monday, a car driven by 77-year-old Jaochin Wallrath came barreling down Howe Street ripping by Southport Waterfront Park with no sign of stopping.
"It came straight ahead, struck the bulkhead and became airborne and went into the water," Southport Police Chief Jerry Dove said.
C.J. Bryant, 18, was out with his girlfriend and his brother at the waterfront when he noticed something strange.
"We heard an engine rev up real loud, and we just happened to turn around and see a car that nearly hit my car," Bryant said. "It went over the speed median and straight into the water."
Bryant and his brother Cameron took off, toward the car.
Jakob Puskas, 16, was the first to reach the water. The trio worked together to free Wallrath, who was unconscious as the waters were rising.
"The first thing I did was grab the door to see if it was unlocked," Cameron Bryant said. "It wasn't. I noticed the car was drifting and asked Jacob to help me push the car back to a safer location."
"We swam out there, pushed the car back and busted the doors open to get him out," Puskas said.
"The water was way over my head but I knew I had to do something, or this guy would have possibly drowned or froze to death," C.J. Bryant said.
The young men pulled Wallrath to the shore. Within minutes, they watched as the car slipped beneath the water's surface.
Cameron Bryant, 20, serves in the US Navy. He said some of his training kicked in as he moved toward the victim
"As I ran, I took off my sweatshirt, because combat training tells us to take off our shirts because, that's the first thing they can grab on to drown you," he said.
Emergency crews arrived on scene as Wallrath regained consciousness.
The three rescuers say they just did what they felt was right by saving his life.
Wallrath showed his gratitude.
"He said thank you as soon as we got him up to the land," Puskas said.
Wallrath is listed in good condition at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.