Man describes rescuing woman trapped overnight in partially submerged vehicle at Florida boat ramp

Venice Woman Trapped

VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - A woman was trapped in a partially submerged vehicle for hours overnight in Venice.

Venice Police say first responders were called to the Higel Boat Ramp early Thursday morning when a kayaker heading out into the water spotted a partially submerged car with an 81-year-old woman trapped inside.

The kayaker, Rod Goodman, called 911 and with help from a paddleboarder, Ed Coster, was able to get the woman out. The woman had been trapped in the vehicle since around 10pm Wednesday night, around 10 hours before she was spotted.

Video shows the vehicle going into the water, though it’s difficult to make out due to brush, the dock and the on-screen timestamp. Keep your eyes on the timestamp - after you see a light flash on the dock, around 30 seconds into the video, you’ll see the vehicle enter the water:

VIDEO: Car goes into water off Venice boat ramp

This video shows it from a front angle that is much easier to see. The vehicle turns on to the ramp, enters the water, and slowly floats further out:

VIDEO: Car goes into water off Venice boat ramp

ABC7 spoke with Ed Coster at the boat ramp. He says it was happenstance he was there. He had been to two other launch areas to discover neither were available and the boat ramp was his last stop.

“When I arrived here, there was another gentleman putting in with his kayak. I was taking my board off the car, he came back to me to say there was a car in the water and he didn’t know if there was somewhere in there,” said Coster.

Below is the call placed to 911:

Coster says from the pier, he could see the car and it was almost completely submerged. In the window, there was very little space for air.

“This hand reached out and kind of waved. As I looked in the car, I could see a face. She was trying to breath with just a little bit of air left,” he explained.

Below is a live interview with Coster, shortly after the rescue:

Woman trapped overnight in partially submerged vehicle at Venice boat ramp rescued

Goodman added, “As we approached the car, her hand came out of the window, and at that point we knew that we had to change the rules a little bit and had to get her out.”

Coster said he got into the water and spoke with the woman through the window. He asked her to unlock the door, but says she didn’t appear to be aware enough to do so. But he tried the door and thankfully it opened.

Coster says he and Goodman helped the woman from the vehicle and she was alert enough to help move her body. They were then able to help lift her up onto the pier.

Police say they are still investigating how the car ended up in the water.

“She said she was there all night. I think she fell asleep, from what I understand, and she woke up in the water," said Coster.

Fire Chief Shawn Carvey added, “She was very fortunate. Especially because when she went in last night, the tides were lower, so she probably felt okay if she was conscious, and she probably just couldn’t get out cause of her age, I’m not sure, but as the water level started to rise I’m sure the panic levels started to increase.”

Venice Police say first responders were called to the Higel Boat Ramp early Thursday morning when a kayaker heading out into the water spotted a partially submerged car with a woman trapped inside.
Venice Police say first responders were called to the Higel Boat Ramp early Thursday morning when a kayaker heading out into the water spotted a partially submerged car with a woman trapped inside. (Source: Venice Police)
Venice Police say first responders were called to the Higel Boat Ramp early Thursday morning when a kayaker heading out into the water spotted a partially submerged car with a woman trapped inside.
Venice Police say first responders were called to the Higel Boat Ramp early Thursday morning when a kayaker heading out into the water spotted a partially submerged car with a woman trapped inside. (Source: Venice Fire Department)

“It puts into perspective, at least for myself, we try to do something, arrange for our own happiness somehow. I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t do that and I think this was a reminder to me that we need to lose focus on ourselves and remember that we’re here for other people as well,” Coster said. “I feel like God arranged that timing for me and that gentleman to be here together to save that woman.”

Police say the driver was taken to the hospital in stable condition. Her name has not yet been released.

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