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'Angel': Woman Saves Man, Daughter From Car in Lake

Hero Beth Hoyos said helping the family is what she was supposed to do

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Northern Virginia bureau chief Julie Carey reports on the Good Samaritan who rescued a driver and his daughter after an accident into Lake Anne. (Published Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016)

    For a mother, it must have been like a scene from a nightmare: A car blasts through a guardrail and into Virginia's Lake Anne, where it began to sink. Inside were the driver and his 7-year-old daughter.

    "The first thing she asked when we were in the water, 'Dad, are we going to sink?'" said Rajesh Kshetri, the driver of the car.

    But Beth Hoyos, who was driving her own daughter home from school, saw the crash as it happened Wednesday afternoon. She pulled over and headed into the lake, rescuing first the girl and then the driver, assisted by a teenager who had also seen the crash.

    "I have children, and certainly I would hope in the same situation somebody would be pulling my child out of a car," Hoyos said Thursday.

    The crash happened along Wiehle Avenue in Reston, Virginia at about 4 p.m. Wednesday. Kshetri lost control of his car, smashed through a guard rail and landed in the lake.

    Kshetri could not swim and the water was deep. He tried to open his door, but couldn't. He opened a window instead, pulled his daughter from the back seat and pushed her through the window and out of the car.

    Meanwhile, Hoyos had jumped into the lake.

    "I was kind of surprised, my feet couldn't touch pretty quickly," she said. "I didn't think it was as serious as it was until I was out and I realized the driver really couldn't swim. He was not going to get out of there on his own."

    His daughter, Preetisha, was treading water. Hoyos quickly got her to shore.

    But Kshetri was struggling.

    "He wasn't screaming, but he was saying, 'I can't swim,' and there was a point where he really was going under and was having a hard time staying up. He looked very panicked at that point."

    Hoyos and the teen got Kshetri back to shore and to safety. He was shaken, but not seriously hurt.

    Today, Kshetri had a message for Hoyos: "I would say thank you very much for saving my life. She was the angel at the right moment."

    Hoyos said she was no hero. "That's a strange term. I think I said to the officer over there, it's a little bit like getting a ribbon for a C. Because you're supposed to do that -- you're supposed to help people." 

    Preetisha -- a first-grader at Dranesville Elementary -- said she wasn't too scared; she had taken swimming lessons.

    But it was a relief to get to dry land, she said.

    "I was all safe and I didn't have to worry about anything," she said Thursday.