A vehicle plummeted over a bridge and into Mission Bay Sunday morning, trapping a man upside down under water for several minutes before rescuers were able to pull him out.
The accident happened around 11:07 a.m. in the 1200 block of East Mission Bay Drive near Fiesta Island Drive.
“I heard an incredible noise. All I could think was a plane crashing,” said witness Steve Kahillane.
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Bay Park resident Patrick Barrett, who was at a nearby playground, said he heard a boom followed by a huge splash.
Barrett, Kahillane and several other witnesses rushed to the crash site.
“It was amazing," Kahillane said. "People were just jumping in the water.”
Sharp rocks and murky water made it difficult for them to reach the victim. He was underwater for several minutes before the good Samaritans were able to free him from the front seat and pull him out the back door.
“He was under a long time. We were fishing around there 30 seconds or so,” Barrett said.
“I grabbed his belt, and we pulled him up the embankment so we could get him flat on his back,” Kahillane said.
Rescue crews arrived and transported the victim, described as a 31-year-old man, to the UCSD Medical Center.
His condition has not been released. No other passengers were inside the car.
The California Highway Patrol issued a Sig Alert and closed off the SeaWorld Drive exit from Interstate 5 southbound as the crash was cleared.
Lifeguards first received reports of a strong diesel fuel smell in the area.
Divers were ordered to check for more victims, but no others were found. A HAZMAT crew will help with the clean-up.
It is unclear what caused the driver to lose control. The San Diego Police Department Traffic Division in investigating.
Check back for updates on this developing story.