What could have been a fatal Pennsylvania car crash into the Schuylkill River turned out much better than anyone could have imagined – especially for the occupants of the vehicle which plunged into the frigid water.
At about 9:15 a.m. on the morning of April 7, 2011, two teenagers were traveling eastbound on Boathouse Row in a Toyota Corolla when the driver lost control of the vehicle. The car crossed over a grassy median and plunged into the cold water of the Schuylkill River. At the same time, Christopher DeFelice happened to be rowing along that river.
DeFelice, who competed on the U.S. Rowing Team in the 2004 World Championships, was heading back from his morning row when he saw the accident unfold. He rowed his single scull over to the sinking car and asked the driver if they were okay, at which point they told him that they couldn’t swim.
As car quickly sunk below the water with the teens trapped inside, DeFelice was forced to abandon his rulebook knowledge and unstrap himself from his boat. Knowing that, in the frigid water, he could quickly be converted from rescuer to victim, he decided to take his chances. He was able to grab one man, but was quickly aware that he was not able to save both.
DeFelice yelled to the onlookers upon the shore for help and a brave bicyclist answered the call. He dove in and was able to pull the second man from the car and bring him to shore.
DeFelice was wet and cold, but did not receive medical attention.
The bicyclist left the scene without speaking to reporters and has not been identified.
The two young men were treated for hypothermia at Hahnemann Hospital and were in stable condition.
The Pennsylvania accident attorneys at Cordisco & Saile would like to wish the young men a continued recovery and would like to thank the brave heroes who risked their lives to save these two teens.