Three Men Rescue Driver From Partially Submerged Vehicle in Modesto Canal

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MODESTO —  A van flew into a Modesto canal and three good Samaritans who just happened to be driving by came to the rescue.

Art Mondragon Jr. is not typically on the road so early but just before 7 a.m. Thursday, he happened to be at the right place at the right time.

“I looked in my mirror and that’s when I noticed the van coming from the opposite side of the road,” he told FOX40.

The driver was heading down East Briggsmore Avenue when she lost control of her vehicle. She crossed three lanes of traffic and ended up in the canal.

Mondragon and his father saw it all happen from the roadway and knew they had to help.

“As soon as it went into the canal, I mean they were going pretty fast, I would say 45 mph or so. The splash had to be at least 30 feet high,” Mondragon recalled.

The pair, along with a third good Samaritan, pulled over alongside the canal looking for anyone who may have been inside the van.

“Within a minute or so, (the current) had started turning the van and that’s when I noticed there was a young lady in the car and she was unconscious,” Mondragon said.

Mondragon dialed 911 but the clock was ticking and he knew he didn’t have time to wait.

“I didn’t have to think twice. I just jumped in there and I knew we had to get her out,” he said.

Mondragon and another man swam up to the submerged vehicle that was quickly sinking deeper into the water. They managed to get the driver out to safety.

Modesto police say the driver appeared to be having a medical emergency and the quick actions by the good Samaritans may have saved her life.

“We do believe that the citizens that stopped and helped probably prevented any additional injuries for her,” said Sharon Bear with the Modesto Police Department.

Mondragon says he’s no hero. “I think I did what anyone would do.”

The whole time he had his family on his mind. He said if it was his daughter in that canal he would hope someone would do the same for her.

“For whatever reason it was that I was here, I’m blessed that we were all able to come out of this OK,” Mondragon said.

The family of the victim told FOX40 she suffered a seizure and fell unconscious. Thursday night, she was a bit shaken up but is doing OK.


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