ONLY ON 3: Rescuers describe saving man from sinking car

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Submitted: Wed, 01/23/2013 - 4:59am
Updated: Fri, 01/25/2013 - 2:14am

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.


  • Cpl. Kevin A. Smith says:

    Although it may seem like “piling on”, no one is prouder of CJ’s actions to save a life than his co-workers here at the Wilmington Police Department – where CJ is one of our Police Cadets! His bravery and sense of duty are no surprise to anyone of us who work with him – congrats to CJ and the other two brave men – well done!

  • Contina Bryant says:

    I thank God for his Grace and Mercy!! I thank him for the wisdom and the courage he gave my sons Cameron Donnell Bryant and Cj Bryant along with Jakob Puskas . These young men risked their lives to save a stranger who car went into the Cape Fear River in Southport, NC. I know it was only the blood of Jesus that covered them. To God be the Glory!!! A proud momma forever!!
    Contina Bryant

  • K Brown says:

    So very proud of you Jakob! Glad you were there to help that man.

  • Doreen says:

    Proud of you 3 young men!! WTG!!!

  • Aprile Bailey says:

    I’ve known Cameron and C.J most of their lives. Their parents taught them to help their fellow man. I would not have expected anything less from them! Jacob’s parents have also got to be proud to know that their son acted so selfless. In a world of “me,me,me”, these MEN showed that theyre not living that lifestyle. Thanks guys for your heroic actions. I am proud of you all!!

  • Proud mom says:

    I guess we have rasied some fine young men! I am glad all three were there and knew what to do in a touch situation. I think we both will always be proud moms and this is a story for the grandkids! :-)

  • Guest461 says:

    …this is it! Without a doubt!

  • Vog46 says:

    Without hesitation – diving into cold water to rescue an elderly man.
    What a couple of courageous men these two are.
    Congrats Mom and Dad – you raised a couple of winners there.

    Nicely done men, nicely done


  • Guest67 says:

    So many don’t want to get involved today. Not my problem or business is a way of life… A big thank you to these three individuals! You should be very proud of yourselves. I hope if a family-member of mine is ever in trouble, someone like-minded is nearby.

  • Proud mom says:

    I am a very proud mom! Jakob did what he had to do to help someone in need! I am glad you 3 were there!!

  • Russell says:

    It’s good to see some good new instead of bad.I am very proud of these guyes you are the best may God shower you with many blessing.Also thank you WWAY for reporting this let’s see more uplifting stories .Thank you all

  • Guest888 says:

    These young men deserve an award for their heroic efforts.

    And how cold that water must have been. I shiver when I think of how frigid it was last night.

    Great news!

    To the rescuers I send my kudos and salutations.

  • KevinMarch says:

    Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

    What an uplifting story! I send my congratulations and thanks to Cameron Donnell Bryant, his brother, CJ Bryant, and Jakob Puskas.

    May God bless you for your bravery. There will be many stars in your crowns.

  • Robin says:

    It is wonderful to see that not all people are heartless and uncaring! Hooray, for these young men; who without concern for their own well-being, acted selflessly to help this man.

  • james anthony says:

    Very proud of you Jakob

  • Guest Redneck Across the River says:

    We need more folks like these guys. A job well done….all of you!

  • Guest33 says:

    God bless you young men. You all saved this man’s life! It’s good to know there are still good people around. I know all your parents are proud to have raised such fine young men. May God bless this man and God bless you young men!!

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