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Captain recounts dramatic rescue of driver trapped in sinking car

‘We accomplished our mission,’ captain tells News4Jax of saving driver from car in St. Johns County pond

SJC captain recounts dramatic rescue of driver trapped in sinking car
SJC captain recounts dramatic rescue of driver trapped in sinking car

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A dramatic rescue this week of a man whose car drove into a pond in St. Johns County was captured on camera.

A St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office captain and deputy jumped in the water Thursday afternoon to save the man in the pond at Sawgrass Village Drive and A1A.

Capt. Tres Edenfield said the unconscious driver was trapped in the car as it was sinking in about 7 feet of water and the pair were running out of time to pull him out.

“This car had taken off through the parking lot, crashed over the curb and was now in the pond,” Edenfield recalled in an exclusive interview with News4Jax. “We need to get to them before the car sinks.”

Deputy David Little tried climbing through the trunk of the sinking car and Edenfield, in water over his head and unable to touch the bottom, tried to smash the window in hopes of getting to the driver.

The video that captured the dramatic scene shows Edenfield yelling and jumping out of the water, trying to get the attention of the man who just crashed and is not responsive.

“Unlock it! Unlock it! Hey! Hey! Unlock it!” he hollers.

Edenfield said Little was unable to kick the back seat of the car out through the trunk, so they tried another option: tugging on the car to pull it closer to shore, where they could stand. In doing so…

“I heard a noise, and I was like ‘What’s that?’ I don’t know if there was a short in the vehicle that caused the doors to unlock. I don’t know what happened,” Edenfield recalled. “I had pulled the doors, and I had pulled the doors when we were out in the water. I pulled the door and the door came open.”

Edenfield said the driver was incoherent.

“I think he was starting to come out of something, and I gave him a slight sternum rub,” he said.

Edenfield kept the driver calm. He said the man had a medical episode before ending up in the pond. He was the only person in the vehicle. According to the sheriff’s office, he is in good condition.

Edenfield has been on the job for two decades and said he risks his life for people he doesn’t even know because it’s a calling.

“Since I was a small child, I knew what I was going to do with my life,” Edenfield said. “I love what I do. I love what we get to do -- from the core of my being, Just the fact this gentleman has another day on this earth, we accomplished our mission. It’s a good feeling.”

About the Authors:

An Emmy-nominated TV reporter and weekend anchor.

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.