Magazine article Corrections Today

Correctional Officers Save Woman from Freezing Water

Magazine article Corrections Today

Correctional Officers Save Woman from Freezing Water

Article excerpt

Leaving work on a cold day in the middle of January, Cpl. Ed Walker and correctional officers David Barnes and Walter Vines of the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tenn., could have never imagined what their afternoon would turn into when they came to the rescue of a visitor trapped in her car after it veered off the road and started sinking in a pond located on institution grounds.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It was following a shift change at around 2 p.m. when Walker entered his car and began heading out of the parking lot. Before he knew it, a car pulled out in front of him and then started veering off the road. "I was walking out the door and saw a car come around the curve," Vines said. "It then went through the poles and chains into the pond."

"I didn't know what to think," said Walker, who was the first to enter the water. "I just jumped out the car and took off after her." Concerned about the car completely submerging into the pond, Walker jumped in the water to try to get the driver out. Walker estimates that the air temperature that day was about 35 degrees so the water temperature easily would have registered below freezing. "I swam out there and made my way to the back of the car," he said. "As soon as I hit the water ... I thought I made a mistake. I reacted so fast.... By the time I got to the back of the car, I was praying I would make it out myself."

Barnes and Vines both saw the car begin to sink into the pond and joined Walker shortly afterward. "None of us really hesitated. We knew what we had to do," Barnes said. "The adrenaline kept me warm." As the three approached the car, they noticed the driver trying anything to get out of the car. "When I first got to her, she couldn't get the windows down because they were automatic," Walker said. The driver's next move was to try to open the door so she could escape but Barnes and Walker prevented her from doing so, fearing that the car would completely sink once the door was opened and water rushed in. …

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