Off duty officer rescues crash victim

An off-duty Ponce Inlet police officer witnessed an SUV go airborne while driving Friday morning.

Rich Gardner says the car drifted across the oncoming lane, hit a driveway, and then went into the air before hitting some trees and landing in a ditch.

“It’s almost surreal to see something like that,” he explained. “You don’t expect to see something like that in your normal course of the day.”

It happened on State Road 415, south of New Smyrna Beach. Gardner says he turned around and went to the wreck to see if anyone needed help.  When he got to the smoking SUV, he saw movement and heard voices.

“There was a female inside that was at the closest point to the door, and she was in some pain – she said she had back pain. I just asked her to grab my arm, so I could pull her out. We got her out first and then the driver ended up jumping out on his own,” Gardner said. 

The officer says he held the woman’s back still until a nurse took over for him. He says both people from inside the car looked like they were going to survive. 

It’s unclear why the SUV went off the road.