CANTON — One man is at Mission Hospital after his car plunged into the Pigeon River.
Before Haywood County emergency workers could reach a car that plunged in the Pigeon River Wednesday afternoon, three citizens and several first responders stepped in to help.
David Chambers, 38, a U.S. Army veteran from Canton, was right behind the gray Honda Accord as it veered off the roadway near the intersection of Penland and Reed streets.
“He just moved off the road,” Chambers said. “It looked like he was speeding up the whole way.”
He estimated the vehicle traveled about 75 yards across a field before hitting the river. Chambers called 911 and was advised to not get in the water, advice he ignored.
“I didn’t want to see anybody drown,” he said.
Two incoming Pisgah High School seniors, Hayden Stockton and Zach Burch, heard the crash and rushed to the scene to see what they could do to help.
Stockton, who is 6-foot-7, said the car was in deep water.
“When I stood on top of the car, the water was on the top of my shoulders,” he said. “I just wanted to help. I just wanted to save someone.”
While Chambers and Stockton were with the car, Burch stood near the scene to guide emergency workers to the scene, which took about five minutes, they said.
The first responder broke the windshield with a punch and pulled one man out.
“They handed him to me,” Stockton said. “I put his arms around my shoulder and swam to shore.”
At that time, right around 2 p.m., the man had a pulse. His current condition is unknown.
Haywood’s swift water rescue team arrived on the scene shortly after the accident, and was later joined by a dive team provided by the Henderson County Rescue Squad.
Canton resident Martha Jones and her husband, Ira, witnessed the accident and called 9-1-1.
“That car came flying down that field,” Martha said.
“It was jumping the whole way,” Ira added, noting the ground was bumpy.
It appeared the car left the road as it missed the curve near Pisgah Stadium and crossed the large grassy area before hitting the river.
On-scene were Canton and Clyde police departments, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, Haywood EMS, Haywood County Rescue Squad and multiple fire departments.
There has not yet been an update on the man’s condition.