The man who rescued a driver from his SUV that was dangling off the edge of a downtown parking garage talks about the moment where he risked his own life to save someone else’s.
The SUV was up eight stories high and more than 70 feet in the air. That may sound terrifying to most people but Zachary Cayson put all of those fears behind him.
"I saw the car dangling there over the edge and I just thought, somebody is still in that car or we at least got to see," says Cayson.
It was a moment when fear washed away and adrenaline took over.
"I told him, 'maybe we should go out the driver's side window.' I reached in and helped him unbuckle his belt and I grabbed him with one arm. Then with the other arm, I helped him get his legs out the window and he just kind of rolled out to the side," says Cayson.
Then Cayson helped him cross over the wire barrier and back to safety.
It was around 2:30 p.m. on September 9 when first-responders arrived to 508 Brazos Street. Their first concern was for the driver.
In a report by the Austin Police Department, the driver tells officers he was pulling into a parking spot on the 8th floor. He says he applied the brakes and that's when he says the SUV didn't stop and instead it went through the cables.
The Austin Fire Department used two grip-hoists for two hours to get the car down. It's a situation they've trained for before but have never had to use on a dangling car.
"The grip-hoist was used to lift the car up and take the tension off of the wires from the parking garage that were wrapped around the axel. We cut the wires there and then we lowered the car down," says AFD Battalion Chief Palmer Buck.
The City of Austin says the parking garage was completed and passed inspection in 1981.
The city does not do routine inspections on maintenance, which would include the replacement of the steel cables. That is up to the owner to take care of. The city is only required to inspect when any type of construction is done.
"The way that the SUV landed, it kind of gave him a nice, easy way to step to get over but certainly our helpful rescuer did a fantastic job," says Battalion Chief Buck.
In fact, so fantastic that Cayson and the driver have kept in touch ever since. They bonded over such an unforgettable experience.
"The whole block was roped off. I looked up and I saw that car dangling there over the edge. I was thinking, 'I was on that ledge, kind of halfway in there for a second.' Yea, it was kind of surreal," says Cayson.
It’s a positive ending to something that could have been truly tragic.