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'It took a group effort to save this woman': Man describes Plainfield water rescue

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Posted at 12:33 AM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 00:33:48-05

PLAINFIELD — Aaron Thomas was heading to work Tuesday when he found a woman stuck inside of a car in a retention pond.

"I ran over some debris, and I wondered what it was. Then I looked up and see that there's a vehicle in the grass over in the Amazon parking lot. Then I look over again because I see lights in the water," said Thomas.  

It happened near the intersection of Stafford and Perry Roads after police say the woman lost control, drove through a fence barrier and went into the pond.  

MORE: Plainfield officer saves woman from car sinking in retention pond

Thomas said he made a U-turn and rushed down to help, where he found another man trying to find a solution.

"I asked him what's going on and he said, 'well someone is in that vehicle.' So, he's stripping down, and he said, 'how are we going to get under there?' So, I lifted the fence and he crawled under and jumps in the water," said Thomas.  

After a few failed attempts to successfully get the woman out, he told Thomas to call 911.  Once an officer arrived, the three jumped into action.

"It really didn't sort of hit me until the cops got there and pulled her out of the water right there in front of me and that's when I was like, 'wow, someone was in there,'" Thomas said. "Once they got her to the part of the bank where they could stand, he told her to stand, and she just collapsed. She was really exhausted."

According to Plainfield Police, Officer Bob Summer used a knife to cut away at the deployed airbag and found the woman who was barely above the waterline and on the phone with 911.  

"This is definitely incredibly scary and frantic for most people. Hopefully, we'll never find ourselves in this situation. If we do, however, the first thing to do is to remain calm," said Meghan Monaco, Quality Assurance Manager for the Hendricks County Communication Center.  

Monaco said the rescue was a group effort, but she wanted to share a few tips if you ever wind up in a similar situation.  

She recommends first unbuckling your seat belts and unlocking the door.  Then, call 911 so a trained worker can talk you through what to do while you wait for help.  Also, stay calm so you can think straight while getting instructions.

"The call today, obviously the driver was not expecting to drive into the water today. So, we instructed the caller to go to the back seat. Once the caller was in the back seat, we instructed her to lay down and to use both feet and kick out that side window," said Monaco.  

Thomas said this moment was life-changing.  

"I see it on the news, I see it on TV and I'm like, 'wow, these people they jumped in there and they helped these people.' I would have never thought it would happen on my way to work," he said. 

Medics transported the woman to Eskenazi Hospital with hypothermia. Officer Summer was checked and released after he received treatment for a laceration on his arm from breaking the window.