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.

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17 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Rescuers describe saving man from sinking car"

Cpl. Kevin A. Smith
2015 years 8 months ago

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
2015 years 8 months ago

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
2015 years 8 months ago

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

2015 years 8 months ago

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

Aprile Bailey
2015 years 8 months ago

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!!