Two Sinking Car Rescues in Dunedin, 7 Months Apart
In an odd coincidence, two men from Palm Harbor have rescued women by pulling them from sinking vehicles in incidents that occurred in Dunedin exactly seven months apart. Meet the man behind the latest rescue.
On the afternoon of Sept. 14, Dan Isabelle, 46, and his son Daniel Jr., 13, were headed to Westfield Countryside Mall, driving south on Belcher Road in Dunedin, when they saw a car plunge into a pond near the intersection of Michigan Avenue.
"There was a car up in the air and plunging right into the water and a huge splash, Isabelle said. "I was like, 'Oh, my God!'"
Isabelle is the second Palm Harbor man to rescue a woman from a sinking vehicle from waters in Dunedin in the past seven months.
Coincidentally, Isabelle's rescue was seven months to the day after John Thorington, 52, rescued a woman from the intracoastal waterway off Edgewater Drive on Valentine's Day.
Isabelle said the 1992 Honda Accord traveled airborne for about 10 to 15 feet.
That's when he instinctively parked his truck, threw his phone to his son and said, "Call 911!"
He ran into the water fully clothed, not even stopping to take off his shoes.
"Instinct took over, and I dove into the water after this girl. I didn't know who was in the car, if there were children or anything like that. That was my main concern, anybody losing their life."
Isabelle says he swam to the car, and when he got to it, the driver was halfway out and was worried about leaving her vehicle.
"I said, 'The heck with the car, you're more important. A car can be replaced, you can't.' So, I grabbed her by the arm and started pulling her back and by the time we got back to the shore, the car had already submerged," Isabelle said. "That little retention pond is pretty deep, I guess."
When he looked back at the pond after reaching the shore, all he could see was an oil slick on top of the water.
Driver Bailey Hartman, 20, of Largo gave Isabelle a hug.
Isabelle says he did not think about what may have been lurking in the pond's dark, murky water until after it was all over.
"You see someone like that in a desperate situation, and all kinds of things go through your mind. Of course, you're not worried about the consequences like alligators, snakes, things like that. You worry about that after the fact. ... You really don't have time to think."
Isabelle said he is glad there weren't any kids in the car. Children's safety is something that is on his mind a lot, because his wife has run a daycare for the last 25 years.
"I was hoping to God there was no children in the car," he said. "My worst fear of having children buckled in a car and they can't get out."
Isabelle said Hartman's family is appreciative. Hartman's father even called to thank him, but Isabelle doesn't want to be called a hero.
"Somebody needed help at the particular time … Instinct takes over, and you don't look at yourself like a super hero or hero, whatever you want to call it. Somebody needs help in a crisis situation and you feel compelled to help out."
John Thorington, was visiting a friend at her Dunedin home near off Edgewater Drive when he saw a car plunge into the intracoastal waterway. He ran into the water and pulled Nicole L. Glazier, 28, of Clearwater from the car. Glazier was later charged with a DUI. Thorington was chosen for Huffington Post's Greatest Person of the Day feature on Feb. 15.
- Read about what caused the Sept. 14 crash: Good Samaritan Rescues Woman Who Crashed Into Pond
- Read about the Feb. 14 rescue: Good Samaritan Rescues Driver in Intracoastal