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Pic: Family saved from sinking car by heroic college students

An ambulance. (Monkey Business Images/Dreamstime/TNS)
March 23, 2024

In an incredible act of bravery and selflessness, five female college students from the University of Georgia rescued a mother and her two young children from a submerged minivan while traveling from Athens to Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

In a post on Facebook, the Sardis Police Department declared Eleanor Cart, Kaitlyn Iannace, Clarke Jones, Jane McArdle, and Molly McCollum as “true heroes” for taking action and helping save the lives of a woman and her children from a submerged minivan near the Brier Creek boat ramp.

According to Fox 5 Atlanta, the five college students, who are Kappa Alpha Theta sorority sisters, said they saw a cloud of dust near the Brier Creek bridge and a flash of white light as they were traveling. 

“We kind of like pulled over super fast, turn, go down this hill to this boat ramp area — and we just see this white minivan submerged underwater,” McCollum told the outlet.

After finding the minivan submerged in the water, the five students jumped out of the vehicle to help rescue the mother and her two children.

“We see the mom pop out of the car, and we’re just like, just tag teaming trying to get the children out of the water,” McCollum said. “The smaller kid, he was four years old, he was like fully under for like we think about four to five minutes.”

Fox 5 Atlanta reported that one of the students called 911 while another student used her lifeguarding training to perform CPR on one of the two children.

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“You kind of expect to never have to use it. It’s just a worst-case situation,” Jones said. “Especially to do it outside of when I lifeguarded too, I never expected.”

The students told Fox 5 Atlanta that within a minute of Jones performing CPR, the child started to respond. “It was so surreal,” Jones said. “I mean, the mom just went and picked up her child and we all just kind of looked at each other and instantly started sobbing.”

According to Fox 5 Atlanta, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office said the mother and her two children were transported to a hospital on Friday and were released by Saturday.

Following last week’s rescue, the five students have been honored for their heroism. In a post on Facebook, the Sardis Police Department wrote, “We especially want to thank the 5 students for their selflessness and act of courage! The term ‘hero’ gets said about sports stars and others, but these five are true heroes!!”

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead also honored the students, writing, “I am so proud of these heroic students and their exemplary act of courage and teamwork.”

A picture of the five college students was posted on social media by Fox News.