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    Sailor Assists After Fatal Accident Leaves Vehicle Mostly Submerged

    Sailor Assists After Fatal Accident Leaves Vehicle Mostly Submerged

    Courtesy Photo | The mostly submerged vehicle of Jim Shearer in the retention pond after the driver...... read more read more



    Story by Chief Petty Officer Travis Simmons 

    Navy Recruiting District New York

    The daily life of a recruiter is generally hectic with frequent schedule changes based on phone calls from applicants, their parents and other recruiters. A Morristown, New Jersey recruiter received a phone call about a walk-on spot for an applicant set up for early the following morning. He rolled with the news and decided to shuffle his gym time to that Monday afternoon.

    While stopped at an intersection on State Route 10 in Randolph, New Jersey a block from the gym, he received a call from a Future Sailor’s mother who was telling him her son was doing great at the Navy’s boot camp and wanted to share the good news.

    “I heard this large crash,” said Chief Aviation Support Equipment Technician Michael Rodriguez, from Dover, New Jersey and 2001 graduate of Dover High School. “I looked up and saw a black SUV flipping in the air and another SUV out of control that darted out of my peripheral.”

    “I told the person on the phone ‘I just saw the craziest accident; I have to let you go,” said Rodriguez as he pulled over and ran to the scene.

    The driver of the rear SUV suffered a medical episode and his wife steered until the vehicle impacted another moving SUV at an extremely high rate of speed. The severe collision, Aug. 27, left one person dead and two people injured.

    “He hit me and the vehicle flipped over right away on the passenger side and slid on the street,” said Jim Shearer, the 70-year-old driver of the front SUV from Byram, New Jersey. “I guess it may be caught the curb or grass that was there and caused it to actually flip over. I was lucky enough that when it landed in the pond, it landed wheels down.”

    Rodriguez saw the vehicle was in a small retention pond and realized the water was about four-and-a-half feet deep. He told another bystander to call 911 while he went in the water.

    “It goes so quick,” said Shearer. “Sitting there and water is pouring in through both windows because they were down. I just thought about how to get out of there.”

    “I couldn't see the door handle through the water so I tried to grab the door frame and pry it open, but instead I cut my hand,” said Rodriguez. “I went to the front of the vehicle and I yelled out if anyone could hear me.”

    Rodriguez said he heard Shearer and could hear him mention his seatbelt, which was in a different position since his seat was shoved to the rear of the SUV during the accident.

    “I finally found the release and after going under water a couple times, I was able to use my toes to get up where the air was,” said Shearer. “There was maybe three or four inches of air up there.”

    The windshield was cracked from the flips and seemed like the best exit for the two. Shearer kicked it loose while Rodriguez helped pull it to the side enough for an exit.

    Shearer said he got cuts on his arms and legs from climbing out over all the glass on the hood of the car. He cut his hand as well when getting off the hood and into the pond with Rodriguez. They would both need stitches after getting out of the pond.

    “I jumped down and it’s a good thing he was there, because as soon as I jumped down I went under,” said Shearer. “I don’t know how he got to the vehicle because the pond was lined with plastic and had all kinds of algae on the bottom. You could barely walk.”

    “As he was helping me back, I went under at least twice and he picked me up,” said Shearer.

    Bystanders on the grass helped them get out of the retention pond and Shearer was taken care of by paramedics.

    “I can’t say enough for him being there; I really can’t,” said Shearer. “Just for him helping me across the pond, and then he disappeared. I mean I didn’t get a chance to thank him or anything; he was gone.”

    “Nothing too heroic, I just saw an opportunity to help,” said Rodriguez. “Once they got some time, I asked one of the paramedics to give me something to wrap my finger up. I wrapped my finger up, drove myself to the local emergency room and got stitched up. I went home and did the walk on the next morning!”

    After getting the police report, which listed the names and numbers of those involved, Shearer called Rodriguez to thank him and talk about the accident. Rodriguez mentioned his nine stitches and Shearer said he got five in his hand. Both mentioned how thankful they were that the SUV didn’t flip upside down in the water.

    Rodriguez joined the Navy out of Paterson, New Jersey 15 years ago and has been stationed with Navy Recruiting District New York for two years. He’s scheduled to go back to sea duty in a year when he reports to the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).



    Date Taken: 10.05.2018
    Date Posted: 10.05.2018 15:15
    Story ID: 295595
    Location: RANDOLPH, NJ, US 
    Hometown: DOVER, NJ, US

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