Washington DC

Good Samaritans Save Man After Van Drives Into Washington Channel

NBC Universal, Inc.

A group of good Samaritans sprung into action over the weekend in Washington, D.C., after a man who was driving a van went off the road and plunged into the Washington Channel.

The crew at Float D.C., an electric boat rental company, sprang into action.

The dramatic rescue was caught on camera, showing the driver struggling to stay afloat as his van takes on water. Luckily help was close by.

"It's always good to help save a life," said Lavert Phillips, owner of Float DC. "I mean, we're not here to be superheroes or anything."

Phillips says they were hanging out on the dock Friday night at the D.C. Wharf when they heard something that sounded like an explosion just after midnight.

"And I happened to look up and I saw a big splash after I heard the bang, and I saw headlights in the water," he said. He spotted the van in the water and got the group's attention.

For reasons that are still unknown, the driver went off the road in the area of Buckeye and Ohio drives SW, going through East Potomac Park and into the channel.

But without missing a beat, Phillips and Colin Jacobs sprang into action.

"My fear was that even if he made it to the wall, he wouldn't have enough energy and strength to pull himself out," said Jacobs.

The video shows them pulling the man out of the water and into the boat before rescue crews arrive. The driver was drenched, disoriented and exhausted, but OK.

"Grab them, make sure you know, catch his breath first," Jacobs said. "And then we both give him a hand and we pulled him up on the boat, make sure he's all safe."

Within seconds after the rescue, the man's minivan vanished under the surface. Not long after, emergency crews responded and eventually dragged the van out of the water.

"By the time we got him, got to him, the car was gone," Phillips said.

Now these guys have a story to tell and a little advice for that driver: "Hey man, be careful," Phillips said. "That's pretty much it. Don't drive in the water, because cars don't do a good job floating. Boats do, but cars don't."

The crew at Float DC says they're just grateful and relieved they were in the right place at the right time.

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