Drivers Rescuing Drivers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    James Ballard

    When Mike Scharbarth put his wetsuit in his car Wednesday, he never expected he'd use it to rescue cars from a flooded street.

    On his way to his birthday dinner in Del Mar, Scharbarth noticed flooding at the intersection of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and Via de la Valle. He got about a quarter of a mile into the road and saw stuck cars, police lights and orange cones.

    He quickly realized that he wouldn't make the party -- he turned around before his own star got stuck in the three-foot-deep water.

    Drivers Rescuing Drivers

    [DGO] Drivers Rescuing Drivers
    Some drivers decided to take a big chance by driving through the standing water. Instead, they either got help from lifeguards, advice from other drivers or left their cars abandoned in the water.

    "Different plans," he said. "Had to do this instead."

    Scharbarth grabbed the wetsuit he just happened to have with him and started pushing cars to safety.

    “Cars were getting flooded, so I helped out a little bit,” he said.

    Other drivers soon joined him, pushing cars to safety .

    "I tried to make it through and my engine got flooded and got stuck in the deepest part of the water,” said Patrick Hutchinson. “A couple nice guys pushed me out and we've been pushing cars out ever since."

    All around the county, car rescues were all too common Wednesday, as the rain from the third storm in a series of powerful winter storm systems slammed San Diego.

    The corner of Pacific Beach Drive and Mission Boulevard looked like a lake around 6:30 p.m. Water was as deep as three feet in some spots.

    Some drivers tried to drive through the standing water. Usually, it didn't work -- some people left their cars abandoned in the water.

    In Kearny Mesa, more than one driver found the water at Balboa Avenue and Ruffin Road just too high.

    Some drivers escaped out their car windows.

    "I pushed the car because it was floating," said one driver, laughing. "It was floating on the sidewalk."

    A swift water rescue team arrived and helped push the car to higher ground.

    Just before 11 p.m. Wednesday, three men were pulled from rushing waters at Dairy Mart Road and Servando near the Tijuana River Valley. The men were under a bridge and trapped by rising water. It took rescue crews more than an hour to get them to safety. Besides being wet and cold, the men were not injured.