View Full Version : Deputies pull woman from car in South Creek

11-01-2007, 11:36 PM
Deputies pull woman from car in South Creek


SARASOTA COUNTY -- School resource officer Dave Clark was driving from one school to another when he saw several cars parked alongside the South Creek Bridge on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, at the sheriff's fleet service center, Deputy Jeff Gross was finishing paperwork and planning a business trip to Orlando. He heard dispatchers say that a car crashed into the bridge and the driver was trapped under water.

Arriving at the scene separately, the deputies pulled an unconscious woman from the creek.

Some are calling them heroes, but the deputies said they were just doing their duty.

"It's part of the job," Clark said. "This is what we get paid to do."

The crash happened shortly before 11 a.m. on southbound U.S. 41 near Oscar Scherer State Park.

Sandra M. Kinsman, 68, struck a guardrail in the median, then struck the side of the bridge and fell 12 to 15 feet into the shallow end of South Creek. Authorities are unsure what caused Kinsman to lose control of the car. She was in serious condition Wednesday evening at Venice Regional Medical Center.

"I noticed a lot of cars at the bridge that were parked along the side," Clark said. "I turned around and got out of my car. I took my gun belt off and headed down the side of the bridge to get her."

Clark held onto a piece of broken metal from Kinsman's car to make it through the thick brush surrounding the bridge.

The car flipped upside down into the water and landed in an oyster bed. Kinsman's upper body was completely submerged in knee-deep water and oyster shells.

Clark said he was unable to pry open the door or see inside the car. He suffered several cuts on his forearms from the shells.

Gross arrived and the two were able to use a pry bar to get the door open. After about five minutes under water the two deputies cut Kinsman's seat belt and removed her from the car.

"As time goes by and you are submerged in water it's not good," Gross said. "We just tried to do everything we could to get her out. If we didn't get her out she wouldn't have made it."

Greg Douglas was driving behind Kinsman at the time of the crash. He and several other witnesses stopped to help.

"I was going to jump in because I would hope someone else would do that if it was my wife or my family," said Douglas, a local car dealer. "It was pure adrenaline. But luckily for her the police were there and they did an excellent job."

The deputies went to a local medical clinic for treatment for minor scrapes and bruises.

Southbound traffic along U.S. 41 was slowed for hours, and authorities were still directing traffic at about 6 p.m. A warning sign has been placed near the bridge to alert drivers.

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.