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Mt. Morris Police rescue driver trapped underwater

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: November 12, 2019


By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor with excerpts from news media

A Mt. Morris Police Officer dove into frigid water and rescued a 50-year-old man trapped inside his vehicle, which had flipped over and was submerged underwater Nov. 4.

Photo courtesy of Mt. Morris City Police Department
Mt. Morris Police Det. Kevin Mihailoff dove underwater to rescue a man trapped in his vehicle.

POLC-represented units Mt. Morris City and Mt. Morris Township Police responded around 12:15 p.m. to a 911 call from a bystander who witnessed a vehicle crash. The vehicle had gone though the guardrail on Stanley Road near Clio Road, and had fallen about 15 to 20 feet, landing upside down in Brent Run Creek, according to police.

“The inside of the car was completely filled with water. The water was at my waist level and I’m 6 feet tall,” Mt. Morris City Police Patrol Officer and Detective Kevin Mihailoff said. “The roof was smashed in. When I jumped over the guardrail and slid down the steep embankment, (Mt. Morris Township) Officer (Cody) Volway was already in the water and broke out one window and was trying to get the door open. He could hear someone inside the car.”

Photo courtesy of Mt. Morris Township Police Department
Mt. Morris Township Officers Cody Volway and Mackenzie Dunklee were involved in the rescue of a man trapped inside a vehicle underwater.

Officer Volway used a window punch to break the driver side rear window, cleared the glass away and made multiple attempts to try to grab ahold of the driver, later identified as Christopher Cady, according to a release issued by Mt. Morris Township Sgt. Bill VanBuskirk.

Mihailoff, who is the local Union President, also tried to reach inside the car to feel around for the driver as it was difficult to see anything in the murky water, but both officers were unsuccessful. Mihailoff removed his gun belt and handed it to Mt. Morris City Police Chief Keith Becker, who was standing on the embankment. After Officer Volway tried but failed several times to break another car window, Det. Mihailoff dove in.

“I was pretty much diving like a duck going down. I went into the (broken) rear window … halfway. I couldn’t see anything.,” Mihailoff said. “I felt the driver seat side headrest. Toward the backseat was the driver.”

Mihailoff, who is also a part-time Mt. Morris Township Officer, said he believes the driver was likely thrown into the backseat during the rolling fall. “He wasn’t in a seatbelt when I grabbed onto him,” Det. Mihailoff said. “I felt his arm and hand and grabbed onto him and pulled him toward me.”

The frigid water took the Officers’ breath away and he had to come up for air. “I almost lost grip, went back down again and pulled him more,” Mihailoff said. “I picked him up by the front part of his coat, he got his feet under him and he took a big huge gasp of air.”

“He stood up and actually at one point said ‘thank you,'” Mihailoff said in a wnem.com article.

The driver was asked and confirmed that no one else was inside the vehicle. “He had no visible injuries,” Mihailoff said. The driver was then handed off to Mt. Morris Township Officer Mackenzie Dunklee who helped medical personnel get the victim to an ambulance. He was transported to Hurley Hospital where he was treated and released.

Mihailoff also needed some help. “I don’t know the temperature of the water, but it took my breath away,” he said. “If you run outside and can’t catch your breath because of cold, it’s like that. I got in an ambulance to get warm.”

Becker said he’s never seen a better rescue effort in all his years of law enforcement work, according to an abc12news article.

“The quick response time and actions that were demonstrated by Officer Volway, Officer Dunklee and Det. Mihailoff saved Mr. Cady’s life,” Sgt. VanBuskirk stated in the release. “All three demonstrated tremendous bravery and the will to not give up until Mr. Cady was freed from the vehicle. Awesome Job!!!”