“We knew we didn’t have much time,” Ball said. “The car was totally upside down and the water was up to the handles of the door. The only place she would have been able to breathe was where the feet were.”
So, the men worked together and began rolling the car up onto its side. A Camry weighs about 3,200 pounds.
“When we started rolling it, we saw that we were rolling her deeper and deeper into the water,” Ornsteen said. “So, we moved to the complete other side. By that time, we were able to muscle the car to where it is now.”
Their work had just begun.
One of the men took a rock and smashed the back window.
They crawled into the car, but when they got there, what they saw frightened them even more.
“We had to get her head out of the water,” Elliott said. “Her face was completely gray. She was unconscious and not moving.”
Ornsteen took his shirt off and gave it to Ball who used it to cover her face, while keeping her head out of the water. The men then tried to get Donofrio out of the car, but they couldn’t unbuckle her seatbelt.
“I took the knife that I always carry and cut the seatbelt once,” Ball said. “But then I noticed the other part of the seatbelt was around her neck and I cut that one right away. Once I did that, she gasped and coughed up water and started breathing. It was a big relief.”
The rescuers tried to get Donofrio out the door, but were stymied again. They smashed out the front window and pulled her through it.
The men took her to the streambank and put her down there. That’s when they heard sirens approach.