Joseph Paul held back tears before watching video taken exclusively by Action News, as his wife and 14-year-old daughter were rescued from the swollen Ridley Creek.
"My wife doesn't know how to swim so she must have been very, very scared," Joseph said.
Firefighters showed nerves of steel throughout the dramatic rescue
"My wife would just like to thank the fire company," Joseph said.
The incident happened at around 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of Knowleton and Fox Roads in Middletown, Pa.
"I've never felt water that swift before my life; it took the feet right out from underneath me," Middletown firefighter Tom Starrs said.
Starrs was among those who took part in the first real river rescue in recent memory for the Middletown Fire Department, but on Saturday training paid off.
55-year-old Denise Paul somehow ended up in the creek near the intersection. During the rescue, Denise is handed a jacket to cover her face because, with the water racing past the car's doors, rescuers knew the only safe way to get her out was through her sunroof.
Fire Chief Rick Tull applauds the 85 volunteers who came to Denise's rescue, especially since after the trapped mother was forced to watch her 14-year-old daughter clinging to a log while she was inside the car.
"Mom was a mother, she was quite concerned over her daughter, obviously, if you think about it, she was sitting in the car in the stream, her daughter is being rescued in front of her," Chief Tull said.
Joseph Paul says his daughter called 911 before climbing out of the car's window. The daughter, a strong swimmer, clung to a log until firefighter Starrs and others fought against the rushing current and chilly temperatures to reach her.
Starrs himself lost his grip because of the rushing water, but not before helping the teenager.
"I did my best to calm her down, she was very cooperative. I then proceeded to grab her because she was starting to slide off the log," Starrs said.
Some firefighters were treated for hypothermia at the scene.
In the end, the firefighters and others can be credited with saving both mother and daughter and nobody was seriously hurt.