Coast Guardsman hailed for saving motorist from car submerged in canal


The roof of a submerged car is shown in a canal off Poyners Road in Currituck County, Wednesday. Fire-EMS officials say a Coast Guardsman on his way home saw a woman perched on the roof the car and swam out into the canal to rescue her. The woman's car ended up in the canal after she lost control of it while driving on Poyners Road, officials said.


From staff reports

Thursday, April 18, 2019

CURRITUCK — A U.S. Coast Guardsman from Currituck County is being hailed for his efforts rescuing a motorist whose car ran off the road and into a canal.

Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Brundage, who works at Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City, was driving home Wednesday when he spotted something odd in the 400 block of Poyners Road: a woman standing on the roof of her submerged vehicle in a canal.

According to Currituck Fire-EMS Deputy Chief Tim Riley, the woman's car had ended up in the canal after she lost control of it while driving on Poyners Road. The vehicle then floated 15 feet across the 5-foot-deep canal from where it entered and began filling with water.

The 29-year-old driver, who couldn't swim, climbed through the vehicle's sun roof and clambered up on the roof, Riley said.

According to Riley, she was in a state of panic when Brundage stopped to help.

“There were a couple of bystanders there. But he was the only one who committed to going into the water,” Riley said.

Braving the 50-degree water, Brundage jumped into the canal and swam across to the vehicle. He then swam back with the woman to the shore where they were attended to by first responders who had arrived by then.

Riley said the driver wasn't injured and she refused treatment from Currituck Fire-EMS.

The Currituck Sheriff's Office is investigating the accident, Riley said. A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office couldn’t be immediately reached Thursday evening. 

Riley said Brundage tried to downplay the significance of what he did in the woman’s rescue. Riley, however, described the Coast Guardsman’s efforts as heroic.

"Currituck County is extremely fortunate to have citizens as brave as CWO Brundage living in our community," he said.

Riley noted that just several weeks ago, a motorist drowned in Currituck County when his vehicle overturned in a ditch off Sligo Road.

Brundage could not be reached Thursday afternoon for this story.