Grand Rapids firefighters free man from car in pond

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man had to be rescued by firefighters after driving his vehicle into a pond at a northeast Grand Rapids apartment complex.

It happened around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday at the Aspen Lakes apartments, located in the 1700 block of Knapp Street just east of Ball Avenue NE.

Witnesses told police that the car was headed south on Bridgeport Road when it stopped, then suddenly accelerated off the road and into the pond.

Max King’s apartment is right above the pond.

“All of the sudden, I hear this splash and this car had fallen into the pond,” King recounted. “I mean, not every day you see a car go into a pond, so yeah, that was definitely, definitely dramatic.”

But what witnesses described as dramatic was just another day at the office for Grand Rapids Fire Department Capt. Brian DeForest and his two-man crew.

The Cadillac was still floating as witnesses jumped in the water to try to help the driver. Moments later, DeForest and his crew arrived, also jumping in.

“He (the driver) was in some danger,” DeForest said. “The car was floating. It sunk a little bit farther once we opened the door to get him out.”

The fact that the car was still floating allowed one firefighter to grab the back of it and pull it toward the shore. That relieved some of the pressure of the water against the doors, which makes is what makes it hard to get into a submerged vehicle.

But there was another problem. The doors were locked. So firefighters improvised.

“We ended up using a police baton to break a window, get the doors open. We put a rope on our equipment operator and he was able to assist the driver back to shore,” DeForest told News 8. “It was pretty difficult to break that window. The windows are made for your safety, but it also makes it difficult to get in. Fortunately we had plenty of tools here and plenty of people on scene.”

A car being pulled from a pond near the Aspen Lakes Apartments in Grand Rapids. (Sept. 18, 2019)
A car being pulled from a pond near the Aspen Lakes Apartments in Grand Rapids. (Sept. 18, 2019)

The driver was conscious and was able to make it ashore. He was taken to the hospital to be checked out; his condition was not known later Wednesday.

“Fortunately, it worked out that Plan A worked the way that we hoped it would,” DeForest said.

It appears the driver had some sort of medical condition that caused him to drive into the pond.

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