When Deputy Chief Kip Springer arrived on the scene of a partially submerged vehicle on Saturday afternoon, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
"We knew we had to act fast," he said. "That's what we focused on."
Nancy Breger, 67, lost control of her vehicle, crashed through a fence and landed in a holding pond off 10th Avenue and Revere Lane in Plymouth. She careened into the pond around 7pm Friday night and couldn’t get out. She sat in the partially submerged car, with water covering her feet and legs, for 17 hours until a bicyclist spotted the car the next morning and called 911.
“We knew we were already working against the clock,” Springer said. “Our first priority was to get her out of the car quickly and safely and get her medical care.”
It took Plymouth firefighters eight minutes to free the Centerville woman from the car. Firefighters were able to wade through the knee-high water, cut out the front window of the car and pull the woman out.
“I couldn’t believe it when we realized she was alert and conscious,” Springer said. “She had been in that car for 17 or 18 hours in freezing cold temperatures and she was an older woman, so needless to say, we were shocked and relieved she was alert and talking.”
Other fire departments were called to the scene, but the quick work done by the Plymouth Fire Department rendered the other teams unnecessary.
“We have to be ready for anything,” Springer said. “We train for this kind of rescue, although finding someone trapped and alert after all that time is certainly a rare rescue.”
Breberg is currently in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center, where she is receiving treatment for frostbite on her feet.