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Car lands in Sawgrass canal; driver dies

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A 72-year-old woman died after her car went into a drainage canal along a golf course at Sawgrass Country Club, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said the driver called 911 about 10 p.m. Sunday to say she was unable to get out of her vehicle and the interior was filling with water.

A woman who lives nearby saw the aftermath as rescuers rushed to the scene trying to pull the woman from the car, which she said was flipped and completely submerged.

"All of us were really concerned. Was it a neighbor? Was it someone we knew? And there was so little information," Britt Erler said.

After finding the car along Salt Creek Island Drive, three deputies entered the water trying to rescue the woman, who was unresponsive. The deputies began CPR and reportedly regained a pulse along with SJC Fire-Rescue personnel, who performed advanced life saving measures before transporting the victim to Beaches Baptist. Hospital staff said she could not be revived.

MORE: What to do if your car is underwater

"The vehicle was underwater essentially, but there was enough of it visible that we knew that the vehicle was at that location. Crews accessed the water immediately and were able to have her out of the vehicle within a minute of arrival probably," said Lt. Jeremy Robshaw with St. Johns County Fire Rescue. "Personnel on scene did certainly the very best they could. Ultimately, it is a tough situation. It's a very difficult situation. And certainly in this case a very tragic, sad scenario that unfolded."

Erler hated hearing the outcome and said she feels for the woman's family.

"Our prayers are out to her and her family for sure," Erler said.

Detectives have not released the woman's name yet and aren't releasing any details about what might have caused the car to veer off the road.

Experts say drivers who find themselves stuck in a sinking car should remain calm and first unfasten their seat belts. Then, try to roll down a window. If the window won't roll down, use something to break it, because it'll be too difficult to open the door. Once the window is down or broken, squeeze through and swim to the surface.