Woman intentionally drove car into the Schuylkill River, police say

FAIRMOUNT PARK - July 8, 2013

Kelly Drive was packed and the river full of crew clubs training on the Schuylkill when the accident happened.

"I heard her jump the curb which caused me to turn around," said jogger Tyson Newby of University City.

Newby couldn't believe his eyes. Right at Fountain Green Drive he watched a car travel several yards across the grass before plunging into the river at about 45 miles per hour around 5:30pm.

"She didn't hit her brakes," said Newby. "She didn't speed up or slow down, she just continued driving at the same rate of speed right into the river."

Good Samaritans were working out a plan to reach the Chevy Malibu before it went under when they heard the distressed female driver say she wanted to be left alone.

"We were trying to get her to climb out the window," said Newby. "She didn't want to do that. She was telling us to go away, she wants to die."

Crew club coaches moved their motor boats over and held on to the woman until Philadelphia Police dive teams and rescuers were finally able to pull her to safety.

They searched her vehicle and found no one else inside.

We've learned the 45-year-old Darby Borough, Delaware County mother of four has been depressed lately over financial issues.

She was rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital where she was treated and placed under psychiatric evaluation.

"I understand someone can be under crisis," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan, "but this was an incredible reckless act to commit here."

Meredith Mariani of the Fairmount Rowing Club was one of those coaches who jumped into action.

She said this is the third time she's been on the Schuylkill in the past few months when a vehicle has careened into the river.

"The coaches look at each other, and we're thinking, 'What's going on here?' first of all. Second of all, 'Is this something we need to be prepared for as a safety issue for our athletes?'" she said.

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