As freezing temperatures grip the U.S., some people are stepping up to help their neighbors. Dr. Matthew Bartholomew, 44, of Chesterfield County, Virginia, took it one step further when he saved a woman from a car sinking in a frozen pond.
On Feb. 16, Bartholomew leapt into action when a woman’s car slid out of control, crashed through a fence and slipped into a partially frozen pond. The passenger screamed, unable to exit her car.
At first, the car seemed stable but then it began to sink. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to get in there and jar (the car) and make it go under. You’re sort of paralyzed, because you don’t want to do anything to the detriment of the person there either,” witness Sean Beard told the Richmond-Times Dispatch.
Bartholomew ran towards the pond, removing his shirt and shoes. Two men handed him a rock, but he failed to break the car window. Instead, he opened the driver’s door, but he wasn’t able to reach the woman because she had climbed to the back of the car where there was an air pocket.
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Upon arrival, Chesterfield police Officer J. Parris gave Bartholomew a baton; he broke the rear window with one strike and grabbed the woman.
“I mean, literally, it was a nick-of-time rescue, because as he broke the back window, the car went down completely and submerged completely. She sort of floated to the top,” Beard said.
Parris pulled the pair to shore with the help of an emergency rope. The woman, who has not been named, was “extremely grateful,” although her car is still underwater and filled with groceries.
Bartholomew had mild hypothermia and some cuts from his rescue; he’s being hailed as a hero.
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“(Bartholomew) sprung into action, no questions asked,” Parris said. “Just total disregard for his well-being, to help someone else.”