2 good Samaritans rush to the rescue after car plunges into Morro Bay

Two good Samaritans rescued a man from his sinking car after the vehicle accidentally jumped the sidewalk and plunged into the waters of Morro Bay on Tuesday morning.

The driver, a man in his 70s, was not injured in the incident, which occurred around 10:45 a.m. in the 300 block of Embarcadero, according to Morro Bay Fire Department Chief Steve Knuckles. There were no other passengers in the car, he said.

Stacy Brand said she was playing with her son nearby at Tidelands Park when she glanced over and saw a vehicle enter the water with a splash. “I thought, ‘That is a freaking car,’ ” she told The Tribune.

Brand, who’s from Three Rivers, jumped in to the water and begged the driver to get out of the car, she said.

Santa Margarita resident Gerald Downen, who was practicing yoga at the park, “heard someone holler ‘911’ ” and spotted Brand in the bay, he said. He, too, jumped in to help.

As water started flooding into the car, a Ford Taurus, Downen lifted the driver out through the vehicle’s open driver-side window, the rescuers recalled. “He was heavy,” Downen said.

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A Good Samaritan works to rescue a driver from his car after it plunged into the waters of Morro Bay on Tuesday morning. Kirby Spencer

“Basically, right when he got out, the car went under,” Downen said. A few minutes after the car crashed into the water it was fully submerged, the rescuers say.

The man was “pretty calm” and “never panicked” while in the water, Downen said.

Knuckles said the man seemed emotionally distraught after the rescue.

Downen, a global brand manager for a company in England, said he goes “paddling all the time” in Morro Bay. Brand, a community college professor who teaches English, is visiting her father-in-law on the Central Coast.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Morro Bay Harbor Patrol were on the scene to address environmental conditions, the Morro Bay Fire Department said.

It took about half an hour for the car to be towed out of the water with the help of two divers.

The crash was accidental, authorities said.

Tribune reporter Gabby Ferreira contributed to this story.

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