Good Samaritans rescue victims from Schuylkill River

Chris Defelice was one of the people who jumped in the water to help the people trapped in the car.

April 7, 2011 2:21:42 PM PDT
It was a dramatic rescue on the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park on Thursday morning.

Two Good Samaritans are being credited with helping to save a driver and passenger after their car plunged into the water.

The vehicle was travelling along Kelly Drive eastbound near Boathouse Row around 9:00 a.m. when the driver lost control, crossed a grassy median, and went into the river.

Chris Defelice had just wrapped up his morning row workout on the river when he heard the Toyota Corolla plunge into the frigid water.

"You hear the sound of an accident about to happen, you hear the screeching tires. I looked over my shoulder and, I guess, the car was out of control and it goes in the river backwards," he said.

Defelice said he knew the two young men in the car, who appeared to be teenagers, were in trouble.

"I heard 'We can't swim.' All of a sudden the car went under the water," said Defelice. "So I just jumped in after them."

As it turns out, Defelice wasn't the only one on hand to help. While in the water he became tired and started struggling, so he alerted a passing bicyclist that he wouldn't be able to save the other victim.

"As soon as I said I couldn't get the other kid the cyclist, no hesitation, was in the water," said Defelice.

Both young men from the car were alert when they came out of the river, and - though weary - walked themselves to a waiting ambulance and taken to the hospital.

Both are expected to make a full recovery.

While the cause of the crash is under investigation, police on the scene tell Action News that they believe a blown tire led to the crash.

Defelice, whose training to make the 2012 Olympic team, says rowers are taught not to go into the water when someone goes under. Two young men must be grateful he did.

"I guess there are no rules when two kids are trapped in a car and it goes under."

The name of the other good samaritan has not been released, nor have the names of the victims.