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Bystanders rescue woman who drove into Willimantic River

<i></i><br/>Rescue crews and bystanders saved a woman whose car plunged into a river in Willimantic.
Lawrence, Nakia

Rescue crews and bystanders saved a woman whose car plunged into a river in Willimantic.

By Rob Polansky and Hector Molina

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    WILLIMANTIC, Connecticut (WFSB) — Rescue crews and bystanders saved a woman whose car plunged into a river in Willimantic on Monday.

Firefighters said they responded to the Bridge Street Plaza around 6:30 p.m.

According to Willimantic Fire Department Chief Marc Scrivener, firefighters and bystanders were able to remove the unidentified victim from the water.

Scrivener said that the woman reported an accelerator problem in her car.

“She was reportedly doing laps around the lot, trying to sort out the issue,” he said. “One way or another, she rapidly accelerated and launched into the river, apparently unseen.”

A customer came out of the nearby El Guanajuato restaurant and heard the woman’s cries for help.

The person returned to the restaurant to ask for help. A couple responded with the restaurant’s owner and went down to the edge of the water.

The restaurant owner, Manny Gonzalez, ran down to the river with Jim Preston, a former firefighter.

“When I looked over and saw the tree, I just thought of it as a fire pole and the funny thing is that Manny has a tree service and a lawn service so to him jumping on a tree was nothing,” Preston said.

Once they were down by the river, Gonzalez put his safety in Jim’s hands to pull the woman out.

“Jim was holding he from my belt, I was on the water, and he said I will hold you, then I grabbed her like this, almost like a hug and got her out of the car,” Gonzalez said.

Scrivener said they helped pull the woman out through the sunroof.

“Under the leadership of Capt. Bruscato, our firefighters arrived and lowered a ladder and personnel down to the river to help remove her,” he said.

A towing company with a heavy duty wrecker then helped to remove the vehicle.

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