MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) — Two Florida Highway Patrol troopers are speaking out after helping rescue a 69-year-old Miramar woman whose silver Lexus SUV plunged into a canal next to Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
FHP says it happened around 4:15 p.m. at N.W. 27th Ave. and 203rd St. right after the Miami Dolphins-Washington Redskins game had ended and traffic was busy next to the Stadium.
FHP says the woman in the vehicle was Gladysse Paul of Miramar who remains in critical condition at Aventura Hospital.
Lt. Luis Darcia and Cpl. Rudy Regis were patrolling the perimeter of the Stadium and on special duty for the game when they got a radio call about the SUV going into the canal after FHP said it was going southbound on 27th Ave. and hit a red Jeep SUV, a chain-link fence and then a black Hyundai Sedan before plunging into the canal.
Regis told CBS4’S Peter D’Oench that he was the first officer on the scene.
“I heard a noise but I wasn’t sure where the vehicle was at,” he said. “I thought I just have to get the person out of the vehicle. That was my driving mechanism. The vehicle was going in a forward motion under the water and I could see the tag and I knew the person was upside down in the vehicle. It just felt like an eternity. That’s when the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue diver went in.”
“Maybe this is a calling for me,” he said. “I never planned to become a police officer. But I did and you move on.”
Regis And Darcia were joined by Miami-Dade police officer J. Childress, who also jumped in the water along with a Miami-Dade fire rescue diver and a parking attendant and two civilians.
Darcia said “I swam to the vehicle and got help from the Parking attendant and we started to break the window on the submerged car. We were able to break two back windows and gain entry. We used a window punch hammer to break the windows.”
Darcia said they were able to use a window punch hammer to break the windows.
“That’s how we were able to break some of the widows,” he said.
He said he felt compelled to do something to help Paul.
“This is why you become a police officer,” he said. “You get to help people in need.”
“We were able to respond in less than a minute because I knew we needed to do that to get the job done,” he said. “I must have gone under water 20 to 30 times. It felt like an hour. But I knew it was somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. I couldn’t see anything in the dark Canal. I was looking into the car but it was like I had my eyes closed.”
Paul’s family members had no idea what had happened to her and initially reported her as a missing person until Monday afternoon when they discovered that she had been rescued.