'Getting her out was paramount': Port Orange officers, Good Samaritan open up about car rescue

Two Port Orange Police officers and a Good Samaritan all worked together to help save a pizza delivery driver who ran off the road into a flooded canal. They're all sharing their story with FOX 35 for the first time.  

Jim Small was watching TV with his wife when he heard screams. They lowered the volume on their TV to realize it was coming from outside. When they went out to look, they saw the pizza delivery car submerged in water and heard the woman screaming for help.

"All you see is water and you can see the top half of the car bouncing out of the water," said Small.

His wife called 911 and he ran in the water to try and help. The doors were locked and the woman said she couldn't move. He attempted to get the window open with a hammer.

"The water in the car was up to her waist and my neighbor brought a hammer and I was unable to break the window on the side. As hard as I hit it it wouldn’t break," said Small.

The incident happened Friday night after heavy rain associated with a Nor'easter brought flash flooding to portions of Flagler and Volusia counties.

Port Orange police officers responded to the crash and saw the vehicle as it was sinking deeper into the water. The officers entered the water and broke the rear window.

"The way the car was angled the nose was down and I knew if I broke the back window out that she could try to climb out through the back," said Sgt. Andrew Mialki.

But, she still couldn't get out so another officer came around to break the back passenger window instead.

"I knew once I broke out the window, the vehicle was going to start taking on a lot more water much faster. So at that point getting her out was paramount," said Officer Nicholas Calenda, who pulled her out of the car.

The woman was pulled out safely and tells FOX 35 Orlando on the phone that she is grateful that the officers saved her life.

"No way shape or form do I think I’m a hero. I’m there to preserve life, do my job that’s why I wear the badge and put the uniform on every day to help people," said Officer Calenda. "We were just glad she was safe and we got her out of the water safely and she gets to go home."

Small is thankful he was home to call 911. 

"We’re snowbirds so there’s a chance we wouldn’t have been here. Had we not been here there’s a chance things would have turned out a lot different," said Small. "The officers showed up really quickly. Had it been another 5-10 minutes she probably wouldn't have made it."

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