Police: Driver pulled from sinking SUV in Miami crashed on purpose

MIAMI (WSVN) - Police divers who came to the rescue of the driver of an SUV that crashed into the water off the MacArthur Causeway, behind Jungle Island, had to battle, not only choppy waters, but also resistance from the driver himself.

Cellphone video captured Miami-Dade Police’s Marine unit pulling the driver from the vehicle. The footage shows the officers on top of the white Ford Expedition.

Police said they received the call regarding the SUV’s crash into the water from the Venetian Causeway’s bridge operator, during rush hour, Thursday evening.

Authorities said the SUV was in the gravel parking lot before quickly accelerating into the water off Watson Island. The bridge tender witnessed the incident and called it out over his radio, and luckily, Miami-Dade Marine Patrol, who was doing training in the area, responded to the scene.

“We looked over, and we saw the white Expedition floating,” said Robert Brutto of the Miami-Dade Marine Patrol.

Officials said the driver did not cooperate with police when they rescued him. “He’s holding on, resisting us, fighting with us, trying to stay in the vehicle. For whatever reason, he doesn’t want to be here anymore,” said Miami-Dade Police Sgt. James Barrett.

But first responders refused to let him stay in the vehicle. “We jumped on the roof of the car, pulled the sun roof off, we were able to pull the bottom layer of the sun roof out,” said Barrett. “We extracted him from the car by his shirt, and as we placed him on the roof of the car, our partners were able to grab him from the roof of the Expedition and bring him into our boat.”

Crews were seen breaking open the sunroof and pulling the driver out of the vehicle before the SUV completely submerged. Officials said the rescue happened so fast, the driver wasn’t even wet by the time the rescue was over.

The driver was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Barrett said he is happy to have been in the right place, at the right time. “I feel good. I feel good that we got him out,” he said. “He’s alive, in one piece. None of us are hurt. Like I said, everybody’s gonna go home tonight.”

By Thursday night, the task became retrieving the vehicle from the water, but authorities said the car was about 200 feet out from the seawall and 8 to 20 feet underwater. Winds and rough waters also made the situation much more complicated.

Officials pulled out the SUV, just before 11 a.m., the following day.

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