Bishop Levi Combs III from First Refuge Progressive Baptist Church says a person in front of his vehicle was driving erratically and hit a dip in the road Saturday while on Route 130.
Combs says the driver spun out of control and began to roll down into the Cooper River. The vehicle quickly started to sink.
"He took the sign out and the windows. I'm behind him on (Rt. 130) watching this all unfold," he explained.
DRAMATIC WATER RESCUE. Saturday morning, a driver lost control and went into Cooper River and nearly drowned. @CollingswoodPd was less than a mile away and officers jumped in, broke the windows, and helped bring the man to safety. @6abc pic.twitter.com/wfywL9gJU4— Beccah Hendrickson (@Beccah6abc) August 23, 2021
Combs dialed 911. Officers from Collingswood were less than a mile away.
"It escalated really quickly. It was only seconds from 'this is bad' to 'this is real bad,'" recalled Collingswood Police Sgt. Ken Jacoby, one of the first to respond to the scene.
Sgt. Brian DiCugno and officers Nicholas Bruns and Eric Roseboro were also there to help. They were in the water within seconds.
The officers grabbed a rope and life vests and began trying to break windows with a baton.
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"I reached my arm into the vehicle and I was actually able to feel the victim's arm. I grabbed a hold of him and I was able to pull him out," said Officer Roseboro.
Finally, they heard a breath.
"He took like a big gasp of air and at that time we were relieved he was still alive," said Officer Roseboro.
The fire department brought the victim and officers to shore. They were met with a crowd of spectators thankful for their life-saving actions.
"This is why we sign up to be police officers, for days like this," said Officer Roseboro.
"And in that moment, all that mattered was the quality of lives. Saving an individual's life. It wasn't about Black or brown or white. It was about someone was in distress in a life-threatening situation, and we got to act," said Bishop Combs.
While Collingswood officers responded, the accident took place in Camden, so metro police are investigating. A spokesperson says the driver is facing four citations including reckless driving.