Good Samaritans rescue woman trapped overnight in submerged vehicle

Sarasota County

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — An 81-year-old woman is alive after an incredible rescue in Venice.

Venice Police said the woman drove down the boat ramp and into the water at Higel Marine Park around 10 p.m. Wednesday. The car was engulfed by water, trapping the woman inside for roughly ten hours.

Water filled up the SUV, leaving less than a 12-inch air pocket for the woman to breathe.

Ed Coster, a retired firefighter who showed up at Higel early Thursday morning to go paddleboarding, thinks it’s no coincidence the first two boat ramps he went to were closed.

“I definitely think God arranged us to be here at the same time to help the lady,” Coster said.

The only other person there at the time, or so he thought, was Rob Goodman. Goodman showed up around the same time to go kayak fishing. As he launched his kayak, Goodman said something white in the water caught his eye

Courtesy: Venice Police Department

It was the top of the women’s car, almost entirely submerged.

“When her hand came out it got real, real quick,” Goodman said, describing the moment the woman stuck her hand out the window to alert she was there.

Goodman called 911 as he and Coster scrambled to figure out what to do.

“A lady has been in the water with her automobile, we don’t know for how long,” Goodman said to dispatch, in a 911 call obtained by 8 On Your Side. “She appears to be okay, we’re going to try and get her out now.”

Surveillance video shows the white SUV slowly driving down the boat ramp. The headlights quickly go out once it’s about halfway submerged.

Coster and Goodman managed to pry the passenger door open and pull the women to safety. She was cold and disoriented as Goodman held her, waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

The woman was hospitalized and at last check was doing okay.

Despite pulling off the miraculous rescue, they’re not quick to call themselves heroes.

“Honestly, I would not put that label on myself,” Coster said.

“I think anybody would have done what we did,” Goodman added.

But after a day like that, both men now call each other friends.

Venice police are still investigating why the woman drove into the water. It’s unclear if her age or health may be a factor.

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