Woman rescued after SUV ends up in flooded canal

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Firefighters may have saved the life of a driver whose SUV overturned into a flooded canal during a morning rainstorm in St. Petersburg.

"I would say she's lucky," said Lt. Kevin Minnerly of St. Pete Fire Rescue.

The incident happened on Roser Park Drive, which is along Booker Creek just south of Bayfront Medical Center.

The SUV was bobbing straight up and down with the driver, 27-year-old Sarah Stull, trapped inside.

"It was terrifying," said witness Akano Pinkney.

Pinkney recorded the rescue on his cell phone.

"They sent the guy on the rope," he said. "Once he was able to climb on top of it, they gave him something sharp to break the glass."

Stull was pulled from the car through the back window. She had been huddled in the backseat as the front filled with water.

Officials said Stull was taken to Bayfront hospital with relatively minor injuries.

"She was nervous at first," said Minnerly. "We calmed her down."

For all the horror of the moment, Stull did get lucky. Her SUV happened to go into the water near a support beam that goes across the canal. Firefighters said the beam stopped the car from being pushed downstream.

"It could have been a whole different outcome," said Minnerly. "Twenty years ago, a similar situation happened and a couple of people lost their lives."

The worst of it was Stull's cuts and bruises, along with some damage to Pinkney's car and garage, which is close to the flooded canal.

"Ironically a neighbor warned me about a week ago and said, 'You might not want to park your car down here,'" Akano said. "I rolled the dice a little too many times."

He was impressed with the way firefighters handled the situation.

"The fire department did a great job," he said. "They deserve an applause for that."

Stull was not willing to speak to the media, St. Petersburg police said.