Police ID driver killed in Schuylkill River plunge near Kelly Drive

April 24, 2013 4:50:29 AM PDT
Police have identified the man who died after his car plunged into the Schuylkill River near Kelly Drive Tuesday afternoon.

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The man has been identified as 31-year-old Devon Womack of the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia.

Late Tuesday evening, crews managed to pull Womack's green Pontiac out from the river.

Police say around 5:00 p.m. Womack and another male were in the car inside a parking lot just west of the reviewing stand. When they attempted to leave the parking lot, Womack mistakenly placed the vehicle in drive instead of reverse.

Authorities say he accelerated causing the vehicle to enter the water.

"It just drove in the lot and it drove over the hump and just kept driving into the water," witness Mildred Burch-Hill of West Philadelphia said.

The coach of the Penn Charter Rowing Team and her partner Michael Moulton were nearby practicing with their team and quickly rushed their small motorboat over to see if they could help.

"She acted very quickly; first she tried with an oar and then she grabbed a fire extinguisher and was able to break the back window and pull one of the people in the car out," Moulton said.

The 30-year-old passenger was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital in stable condition.

Seconds later, the treacherous waters of the Schuylkill consumed the car with the driver apparently still inside.

Philadelphia police divers jumped into the frigid water trying to locate the man and the car; divers say the water is so murky you cannot see.

"It's mostly all by touch and feel. They're a lot of logs down there, the first time I got tangled up in some fishing wire, had to cut that loose," Officer Joe Curley of the Police Marine Unit said.

An hour after the car went into the river, they were able to recover the driver's body, but it was too late.

Womack was later pronounced dead at Hahnemann.

"We did what we could. Everyone on the river helps each other out. We did what we could," Moulton said.

"Had it not been for them we would have had a double tragedy today," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan said.