SAN DIEGO - A driver was hospitalized Sunday after his car went off the road and landed upside down in a watery arm of Mission Bay.
The driver, a 31-year-old man, was headed north on East Mission Bay Drive just north of Sea World Drive shortly after 11 a.m. His car veered to the right, crashed through a barrier, went airborne and landed in the shallow bay waters of Tecolote Creek, according to San Diego police.
He was submerged underwater for a few minutes until passersby fished him out and took him to the creek bank, authorities said.
Patrick Barrett says he was at the playground area of a nearby park with his brother and nephew when he heard a boom, saw a big splash and ran over to help.
“Got down to the water … there was a gentleman in front of me, he got the back door open,” said Barrett. “He was kind of fishing around in there and I was holding on to him making sure he didn't go down any farther so I could pull him out.”
Barrett and several other bystanders eventually pulled the man out the back window of the car. Barrett described him as a big guy, which also hampered any attempt to do CPR.
“You couldn't really do CPR down there in the water,” said Barrett. “There was just nowhere to do it. We were trying to drag him up on the rocks but that was real difficult.”
He says the man was unconscious but appeared to be breathing.
“I used to be an ocean lifeguard in Montauk, New York so I do have some training but that was back in the 90s, so it was just a matter of getting in there and doing it,” said Barrett.
The man was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center in an unknown condition to be treated for oxygen deprivation and other injuries, according to police and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
The adjacent southbound offramp from Interstate 5 to Sea World Drive was temporarily closed after the crash, according to the California Highway Patrol.