WEST BROWARD, FLA. (WSVN) - Two women were killed and three other people, including two children, were taken to the hospital after a car traveling on Alligator Alley in West Broward careened off the roadway and crashed into a canal, officials said.
Florida Highway Patrol said that the incident occurred when the driver had a tire blow out, causing them to lose control and run over a fence before crashing into the water.
7SkyForce HD hovered above the very active scene near Mile Marker 29, about four miles West of the toll plaza, Tuesday evening.
Broward Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol and Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue units responded to the scene.
Charlie Chang, a truck driver, said he was also heading westbound when he saw the car skid off into the sawgrass and into the canal.
“I saw the car go airborne, and I just stopped and ran and jumped in the water,” he said.
Chang said he immediately dove into the water.
“I didn’t think about it. I didn’t think about the gators or nothing like that. I just did it,” he said.
A witness said he also saw the partially submerged car.
“The car was floating, halfway sinking,” said the witness.
Florida Highway Patrol said the car’s back left tire blew, causing the driver to lose control.
Chang said the vehicle in the canal was sinking quickly.
“The car was going under so fast that by the time I jumped in, I was able to swim out to grab the first lady and a child,” said Chang. “At that point, the car had gone under.”
Chang soon realized he was not the only good Samaritan who had stopped.
“Next thing you know, another guy jumped in to grab the other kid,” he said, “and someone at one point was screaming, ‘Gators!'”
According to investigators, three women and two children were inside the car. The woman is said to be 40 years old, and the boy and girl are both two years old.
“They were screaming, ‘Help, help, help!'” said Chang. “I just jumped in.”
According to BSFR, the three surviving victims suffered relatively minor injuries.
However, the other two women stayed considerably more time submerged.
Rescue crews administered CPR to those victims and transported them to area hospitals in extremely critical condition. One of the patients was taken to Cleveland Clinic in Weston, and the other was taken to Broward Health Medical Center.
Tuesday night, authorities confirmed those two victims had succumbed to their injuries. Although their names have not been released, officials said one of the victims was 47 years old and the other was 22 years old.
Back at the scene, a BSO deputy hurt her knee and was treated for her injury.
A BSO helicopter helped guide investigators to the submerged car, since it was nearly impossible to see in the dark water.
“If that was me, I hope somebody would jump in, too,” said Chang. “Save somebody’s life. That’s the only thing that’s important.”
The car involved in the crash was pulled out of the canal just before 11 p.m., with assistance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The occupants of the car were from North Fort Myers, according to officials.
Hospital officials said those that were taken to be treated have been sent home.
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