Rescuers recount dramatic canal rescue during storm in Mesa

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The crew that helped rescue the victim spoke about their experience the night of the incident. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The crew that helped rescue the victim spoke about their experience the night of the incident. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Witnesses and first responders who helped rescue a woman who crashed her car into a canal during Monday's monsoon storm spoke out at a press conference Wednesday morning.

The woman was driving when a massive storm swept across the Valley Monday evening; her car -- with her still inside -- ended up submerged near Alma School Road and Loop 202 in Mesa.

At the press conference, Phoenix fire officials replayed the 911 call made by the victim and commended the dispatchers for remaining calm despite stressful situations and language barriers.

[RAW VIDEO: Rescuers responsible for saving woman who drove into canal during storm share experiences]

There was another emergency call made that day that helped initiate the response process.

Jason Martin and Nikki Cortes were driving nearby when Cortes noticed the victim’s car in the canal. They immediately turned around and called 911.

“We waited what seemed like forever, but thankfully they got there in time,” Cortes said.

Martin praised Cortes, his fiancé, for her quick thinking and ability to remain calm.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona monsoon 2018]

“If she didn’t notice the car, who knows what would’ve happened to the lady inside the vehicle,” Martin said.

Members of the Mesa Fire Department thanked Mesa police officers for their efforts on the scene, but also acknowledged another individual who was there to help tell the story of the incident.

Merrill Brimley, a Mesa resident and son of a former Mesa fire captain, was at his home nearby when he heard police sirens and immediately came out to see what had happened.  

[ORIGINAL STORY: Woman rescued after car crashes into canal in Mesa]

When Brimley saw the crews at work on the scene, he pulled out his phone and began to record the incident.

“I witnessed as they were trying to determine if she was alive or not,” Brimley said. “They pulled the door open and the one fireman puts his hand in there and he’s saying ‘not viable.’ Then all of a sudden, I can only imagine, she grabs his arm or something and he says ‘viable!’”

Brimley was impressed by the firefighters' quick instincts as they began rescuing the woman.

“As I’m filming this I see her coming out and her arm was moving, and I thought, ‘What a great sight that was to see that she was moving,’” he explained.

Brimley said it was cool to see the great work of the Mesa Fire Department as they worked diligently to help the woman survive.

The press conference also allowed responding crews and dispatch agents to share their side of the story from Monday night.

“A huge kudos goes out to everybody involved in this, everyone from the dispatcher to citizens on the scene who made that call, and all of the crews that worked together,” said Fire Captain Casey Russel, who was a part of the responding crews. “Everything went pretty smooth.”

The woman, who has not been identified, was listed in stable condition and is expected to be OK, according to paramedics.

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