Kayaker Saves Family After SUV Crashes In River
A kayaker helped save a family of five after their SUV veered off the road and into a Northern California River on Thursday.
Mark Divittorio of Placerville, California, was paddling in the American River when he saw the accident occur.
"It was fortuitous that they didn't actually land on me," Divittorio told KCRA. "I was kayaking right there moments before they plunged off the cliff."
The family was driving on Highway 50 in rural El Dorado County near Kyburz, California, when the SUV veered off the road. The vehicle hit a concrete mile marker, a tree, a boulder and then crashed into the river. The reason for the accident is still unknown.
Divittorio was able to help the three children—a 4-year-old girl and two 15-year-old twin girls—out of the SUV and onto shore. He then returned to help the husband and wife. He found the driver with his head partly submerged in the water and his wife trying to hold her husband’s head up.
A nearby fire crew arrived at the crash site within three minutes. Firefighters rescued the couple from the vehicle and stabilized the driver. The SUV was on its side and half-submerged in the river.
While the driver, Christian Lemler, 50, suffered moderate to major injuries, the other family members walked away with only bumps and bruises, according to officials.
"All the circumstances came together," Mike Pott, division chief of the El Dorado County Fire Protection District, told The Huffington Post. "Several things came together to help save this family."