A lone Kayaker out for some quiet time on the river is now being hailed as a hero after rescuing a family from their SUV after it went off road and careened into the river in April.
The SUV went out of control and hit a concrete mile marker, a tree and a boulder before it plunged into the American River where it came to a stop, Inside were three children and their parents. The accident occurred near Sacramento according to authorities.
Mark Divittori was on the river in his kayak when the crash occurred. He happened to be in the right place at the right time. The vehicle, badly mangled from hitting the other object, landed in the river just yards behind where he was kayaking.
Divittori told NBC reporters that he had been kayaking in that very spot just moments before the car took its plunge. He could have been hit and killed himself and counted himself lucky.
The three children managed to unfasten their own safety belts and exit the vehicle on their own. Divittori then helped each of them to safety. The driver however, was pinned in the vehicle. His wife remained with him to hold his head above water.
As though a mysterious guardian angel was working overtime, the family had another stroke of good fortune. A fire truck happened to be in the vicinity and was able to assist. They were able to get to the parents in an astounding three minutes and rescued the parents. Using a life jacket to help keep the driver’s head above water, the El Dorado County firefighters cut the roof away from the SUV.
Fire Marshal Mike Pott said the lack of recent rainfall in the area played a factor in the rescue. It kept the river from being as high or as fast-moving as it usually is. A higher, faster river would have hampered their rescue attempts and the father might not have survived his brush with death.
Officials said only the driver sustained serious injuries.