Good Samaritan pulls woman from submerged car

- A drunk driver slammed into another car early Tuesday morning, sending that car into a retention pond, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Alexander Chiaravalle, 20, of Jupiter, was driving northbound on Alafaya Trail around 2:30 a.m., when he collided with a car driven by a woman that was stopped at a red light on Waterford Lakes Parkway, troopers said.

"He never applied the brakes and rear-ended her vehicle,” said Sergeant Kim Montes with FHP.  “She never had a chance to even know what was even going on."

The woman was partially submerged when some good Samaritans tried to help her.

“We heard her yelling, 'I can’t swim! I can’t swim! Please help, I can’t swim!' so immediately, I started taking off my shoes, take out my keys and start to sprint towards the car,“ explained Troy Thomas, who happened to be walking by the scene of the crash with a friend. 

“I moved her bumper out of the way, I opened the car door, and she was pinned in here at an angle," said Thomas.  "I was just pulling her hands towards me to prop her up and get her out of the deep part of the water. She just kept saying, 'Dude, I can’t feel my legs!'” 

The woman, identified as Vanessa Wadia, 38, suffered serious injuries and was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center.  

Chiaravalle, 20, crashed into a grassy ditch across the street from the retention pond. He only suffered minor injuries, authorities said.   Troopers said he was under the influence at the time of the incident, and he refused a breath test.

“We know that underage drinking is a problem out here, and this is exactly the problem that we see," said Montes.  "They drink, they get in a car, and cause a crash, and luckily, this woman was not killed by this driver.” 

Chiaravalle is charged with DUI and careless driving.  Troopers said additional charges are pending.

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