Passerby saves man in sinking car: ‘Anybody would do it’

Ottawa County

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — When Tamy Geerts saw a car sinking into a man-made neighborhood lake, her instinct kicked in.

A security officer for Grand Valley State University and mother of two, she says helping those in need is in her nature.

“I was terrified that somebody might be in there still,” Geerts said as she recounted the ordeal in an interview Monday. “I took my shoes off. I took my socks off. I threw my glasses and I went in.”

It was Saturday afternoon when she spotted the car in the water at the Placid Lake Community, near the intersection of Lake Michigan Drive and 84th Avenue, in Allendale Township.

Once she realized that there was someone in the car, the situation increased in urgency and oddity. The man in the driver’s seat was awake, but for some reason wasn’t excited to aid in his own rescue.

“He was already, at this point, submerged to his waist in water and he was just sitting there looking straight ahead,” Geerts said.

Geerts said the man eventually tried to roll down the car’s windows. The only button still working was for the back passenger window. The victim climbed into the back seat and Geerts said she was able to pull him through the window.

“I pulled both of his legs out of the car and I said, ‘You need to help me swim. Can you swim?’ He said yes,” Geerts explained. “But he didn’t swim.”

As she pulled the man to the shore, emergency crews began to arrive.

Geerts said the man never seemed fully aware of what happened before being whisked away in an ambulance. However, Ottawa County sheriff’s officials said alcohol and drugs were not factors in the incident.

Investigators said he was taken to the hospital in stable condition. Geerts said she hopes he is getting help.

“I’m glad you’re alive,” she said when asked if she had anything she wanted to tell the man. “You’re worth it.”

As Geerts rescued the man, her 6-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter watched from the back seat of the family SUV.

“My daughter was a little scared but she’s like, ‘Mommy, you’re a hero,'” Geerts said. “It makes you feel good, but I’m not a hero. Anybody would do it.”

Remarkably, the rescue wasn’t Geerts’ first of the sort. She said she pulled another man from a car that had rolled over into a shallow pond of water a few years ago. She chalks it up to being in the “right place at the right time.”

She was initially reluctant to participate in an interview, but said she ultimately decided to share her story in hopes it pushes the someone else to jump in and help when a critical moment arrives.

“You have to help,” Geerts said. “You just have to.”

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