Bystanders didn't think twice about jumping into the frigid and swift irrigation canal in Kennewick to try to help rescue a woman whose car plunged into the water.
Terry Ravera, 54, of Richland, was driving from Richland on Highway 240 around 2:30 p.m. Friday and apparently lost control of her white Chrysler as she took the exit to the Columbia Center mall, said Richland Fire Battalion Chief Ted Ricci.
Her car somehow careened across all lanes of Columbia Center Boulevard and over the raised lane dividers, all without hitting another vehicle.
"At this time, yes, it would be considered a miracle," Ricci said.
The car then plunged into the river and floated more than 200 yards before possibly being turned around by the current.
Jamie McCarty, who works at Roasters Coffee espresso stand near the canal, said he caught a glimpse of something from the corner of his eye in the water.
"It was so strange because I looked out the window and there was definitely something floating in the water," McCarty told the Herald. "I jumped out of the window and saw it was a car."
By then, a couple of other bystanders had jumped into the water and were trying to unlock the car doors to get to Ravera.
"It was definitely a shock, especially when I heard there was someone in there," McCarty said.
Nanette Danley of Mesa said she watched as the people in the water broke out the rear passenger window and tried to help Ravera.
By then, emergency crews had arrived and took over, she said.
Because of the location, the Kennewick and Richland fire departments were dispatched to the scene. Benton Fire District 1 crews also responded, Ricci said.
Kennewick firefighters ended up going into the water to pull Ravera out of the car and carried her on a backboard up the embankment.
She was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland. Ricci said he didn't know the extent of her injuries, but she was talking to emergency personnel.
Danley said the woman didn't appear to be moving around much in the car, but she did manage to get her window rolled down slightly so people could talk to her.
Danley was headed to the AT&T store with her husband, Joe, and 13-year-old daughter, Veronica, when Veronica spotted the car in the water.
"We just turned around and parked, and we just tried to figure out what happened," Veronica said.
Firefighters tied a rope to the Danleys' Jeep Cherokee to use as an anchor to keep the car from drifting down stream.
The Danleys stuck around to watch Columbia Basin Dive Rescue members go into the water and attach the tow chains up to the car.
As the car was lifted out of the water, little to no damage was visible.
"I would have thought it would be all banged up," Nanette Danley said.
Kennewick police and the Washington State Patrol also were on scene. Ravera did not suffer any injuries in the crash, which was caused by a medical issue, according to the state patrol.