DEERFIELD BEACH (CBSMiami) – Several heroes jumped into action to rescue a woman and toddler trapped in a car submerged in a canal.
The frantic moments were caught on cellphone video just after a family car plunged into a Deerfield Beach canal, near S.W. 10th Street in Deerfield Beach, around 11:20 a.m.
It stunned people who work nearby.
“We didn’t know what had happened right away and then as it started to unfold we were seeing how serious it was and it was very shocking out here,” said Robert Beckford.
Inside was 3-year-old Aubrey Herndon, her father, Christopher, and mother, Cynthia Hutchinson.
Cynthia was behind the wheel and, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, the car inexplicably swerved out of control.
“The vehicle was traveling southbound in the inside lane and, for unknown reasons, the vehicle then made an abrupt diagonal turn toward the right shoulder,” said Sgt. John Baker. “As it does, it goes through the chain link fence and ended up into a canal on the west side of the roadway.”
Some 20 people jumped in the water or waited on shore to assist. Christopher was able to get out on his own, but Cynthia and the child were trapped inside the car, flipped over in 7 feet of water.
“The obstacle was the car up on it’s roof,” said Sgt. Baker. “They weren’t able to get into the car because of the suction, because the car being upside down, the suction against the doors, that’s why they had to pull up onto it’s side and then open the doors.”
Chuck Webster and his son were one of the first Good Samaritans on scene. Webster told CBS 4 News that he pulled over his truck and raced to help.
“We just jumped in the water at that point and went to see what we could do,” Webster said.
Webster said the water was dark and deep and it was about 5 minutes before a Road Ranger and a team of Good Samaritans, including Webster, could use chains to get the car on its side. Once they did, they were able to free 3-year-old Aubrey still in her car seat.
“The baby spit up water a few times,” Webster said. “It looked like she breathed. She did breathe. She exhaled a few times.”
Webster said after they removed the child, he managed to free the mother.
“I just pulled her out of the car and handed her off to some other people,” he said.
He said the mother, identified by FHP as Cynthia Hutchinson, appeared to be in bad shape. Webster can only pray that mom and baby survive.
“The baby’s got its whole life to live,” Webster said.
Video showed paramedics working on the toddler while her mother is loaded into an ambulance.
The child was airlifted to Broward Health Medical Center. For those who watched it unfold, it’s a stark reminder of how quickly life can change.
“Just how precious life is and you have to cherish every moment that you have while you’re here,” said Beckford. “Because in the blink of an eye you can be gone.”