Man who pulled woman from car in pool called 'hero'

Man who pulled woman from car in pool called 'hero'

POSTED: Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 10:45am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 10:49am

A 23-year-old woman was hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday after a neighbor pulled her from a submerged car that crashed into a swimming pool and gave her CPR, police said.

The victim was riding in a westbound 2006 Kia Rio that veered off Calavo Drive in unincorporated San Marcos at high speed and crashed through a backyard fence near Nordahl Road about 11:55 p.m. Monday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The car plunged into a pool behind a home, flipped over and sank to the bottom, CHP public-affairs Officer Jim Bettencourt said.

The driver, 33-year-old Robert Aaron Anderson of San Diego, was able to get out on his own, but his girlfriend remained trapped, Bettencourt said.

Moments later, a neighbor who was awakened by the crash, 22-year-old Jarit Welles, ran over and asked Anderson what had happened. The driver told him his girlfriend was still in the car, Welles dived into the pool, freed the Escondido woman and pulled her out.

"It took about four minutes,'' he said. "I eventually got her out, but it was hard, because she was (tangled) up in the seat belts.''

Welles performed CPR until paramedics arrived and took over the lifesaving efforts. They were able to restore the woman's pulse and respiration, Bettencourt said. They then took her to Palomar Medical Center, where she was admitted in grave condition.

The woman's name was withheld pending family notification.

Anderson was taken to the CHP's Oceanside station for questioning, then released pending further investigation into the accident. Intoxication did not appear to be a factor in the wreck, though excessive speed "definitely'' was, according to Bettencourt.

"Charges may or may not be filed (against Anderson),'' the officer said. "It just depends on what the investigation shows.''

The officer said Welles, who suffered cuts to one of his hands during the underwater rescue, deserved high praise for his lifesaving actions.

"He's really a hero for what he did,'' Bettencourt said. "He did what most people would not do in that situation.''

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