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Rescuer describes pulling woman out of submerged vehicle in canal on Briggsmore Avenue

Hero recounts pulling woman from submerged car

Modesto accountant Mark Polkinghorne recounts pulling a woman from a vehicle that went into the canal on East Briggsmore avenue west of Roselle avenue this morning April 18, 2019 after the driver seemed to suffer a medical emergency.
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Modesto accountant Mark Polkinghorne recounts pulling a woman from a vehicle that went into the canal on East Briggsmore avenue west of Roselle avenue this morning April 18, 2019 after the driver seemed to suffer a medical emergency.

Three bystanders rescued a 28-year-old woman Thursday morning after she crashed into a canal along Briggsmore Avenue while apparently suffering a medical emergency.

Witnesses reported the Dodge the woman was driving was “out of control” on eastbound Briggsmore, west of Roselle Avenue, before she crashed into the canal at about 7:13 a.m., said Modesto Police spokeswoman Sharon Bear.

The Dodge veered north, crossed westbound lanes, and went into the Modesto Irrigation District canal on the north side of the road.

It floated downstream about 150 feet before stopping, Bear said.

Mark Polkinghorne, a Modesto accountant, was driving to a medical appointment near Memorial Medical Center when he saw a wake in the canal water.

He and others stopped to see what was causing it.

“I got down there and there was a car in the canal and I could see there was a woman in the passenger seat,” he said. “There was four of five of us on the canal bank and nobody was doing anything so I figured one of us should do something so I jumped in.”

Polkinghorne said the woman “was slouched over across the console toward the passenger seat.”

Her doors were locked but her window was down. Water was up to the woman’s shoulders.

Polkinghorne said he tried talking to her but she was unconscious so he reached in and pulled her through the window.

Others helped Polkinghorne bring the woman to the canal bank and emergency personnel arrived on scene a short time later. Bear said Art Mondragon Jr. and Art Mondragon Sr. also helped in the woman’s rescue.

Bear said it appears the woman suffered some type of medical emergency. There was no indication drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash.

The woman suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital.

First responders gave Polkinghorne a blanket to help warm up and dry off.

Modesto Fire Department Battalion Chief Darin Jesberg said Chief Alan Ernst will be calling Polkinghorne on Thursday to thank him and the department plans to recognize him with an award for his “quick and heroic actions.”

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