Canada
Ontario pastor and wife pull girl from car trapped underwater

Frankford, ON residents Dan and Liane Wood are shown here Feb. 7, 2013, near a vehicle submerged in the Trent River.

Credits: EMILY MOUNTNEY/QMI AGENCY

ERNST KUGLIN AND EMILY MOUNTNEY | QMI AGENCY

TRENTON, ON - A pastor and his wife are being hailed as heroes after a pulling a 13-year-old parishioner from her family's flipped car trapped underwater.

The Nissan Juke SUV had somehow slipped into neutral in the parking lot of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Frankford, ON on Wednesday night, rolled down an embankment and into the Trent River.

The girl was alone in the car, waiting for her family to leave church.

Hearing the panic from a group of other girls who saw it happen, Pastor Dan Wood, a former volunteer firefighter, and wife Liane quickly ran down the embankment after the car.

They said they jumped into the rapids and tried to free the girl from the vehicle, upside down in the river and quickly filling with water.

The doors were locked, Dan said, so the couple said they tried to smash the passenger window, but couldn't.

Then a break of luck.

"We couldn't break the side window so I went around to the back to break the window on the hatch and we were feeling for where the window was, then we realized when the car rolled over, the hatch had popped open," said Dan.

"It was miraculous that it was open," said Liane.

The pair called out to the girl - giving her instructions on how to get out.

"She was incredible. She kept calm," Dan said. "We gave her instructions on how to get to us, she followed them. She made a very bad situation better. If she had panicked, it could have been much worse.

"She doesn't remember what happened. It was like a big nightmare for her."

Other parishioners at the scene were able to lower a ladder over the edge and all three were pulled to safety.

The couple don't remember how long they were in the water.

Quinte West Fire Chief John Whelan described the rescue as miraculous, given the conditions.

"They were extremely brave," said Whelan. "The current is really fast at that section of the river. It's a wonder they were not swept down the river."

Dan said he and wife only reacted as needed.

"I don't look at what we did as being heroes," Dan said.

The girl was taken to hospital and later released. Her name was not released.

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