Tuesday, 21 May 2024

County employee saves woman from submerged car

The CHP was on scene to investigate the Thursday evening accident and found a second submerged car (left). Photo courtesy of CHP Officer Dallas Richey.

RODMAN SLOUGH – The California Highway Patrol is reporting that a good Samaritan – who happened to be a county employee – saved the life of a woman who lost control of her vehicle and plunged into the lake Thursday afternoon.

The accident took place at Rodman Slough along the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff, according to the CHP.

CHP Officer Dallas Richey, one of the investigating officers at the scene, said a 76-year-old woman driving a gold 2001 Chevy Venture minivan lost control of the vehicle as she was traveling along the cutoff. Richey said he believes that she became dizzy and began to lose consciousness due to a medical condition.

The minivan went down the path alongside the bridge and into the water, Richey reported, about 75 feet from shore.

Javier Batres, 36, an employee with the Parks Division of the county's Public Services Department, happened to be at Rodman Slough, said Richey, and saw the accident.

Jan Campbell, Public Services office manager, said Batres was on duty, installing illegal dumping signs when the accident occurred. She noted he had just installed a sign which the minivan hit as it went off the road.

What Batres did next, Richey added, likely saved the driver's life.

Batres reportedly dove in after the woman, breaking through the minivan's rear window and climbing into the vehicle, Richey said.

As the vehicle was submerging, Batres pulled the woman from the driver's seat and out of the car, said Richey, placing her on the roof of the vehicle until help arrived.

Batres' heroic efforts earned him minor injuries to his hands from breaking out the window.

Both the driver of the minivan and Batres were transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, Richey reported.

Campbell said Friday morning that Batres was on his normal day off, and that the physical effort of the rescue had left him with some resulting soreness. She said his fellow staffers had been worried about him.

His co-workers are very proud of him for his courageous actions, Campbell said.

Batres has been with the department since May of 2005, she noted. “We're very fortunate to have him with us,” she said.

The story has an odd footnote.

While pulling the minivan out of the water, rescue workers discovered another vehicle submerged near where the minivan had gone into the water.

Rescuers in the murky water attempted to locate the minivan by groping with their hands but the first car they found was a blue Toyota MR2, last registered in 2002.

Richey said the car had not been reported stolen.

E-mail John Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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