Officers Pull 2 From Submerged Van

Officers didn't have time to suit up but jumped in anyway

Two people were taken to the hospital in critical condition after the van they were riding in plunged into the San Diego Bay.

A man and a woman were riding in a Dodge Caravan heading south along Harbor Island Drive just before 11 p.m. Monday, according to Harbor Police.

When officers arrived witnesses told them the vehicle didn't turn left or right at the T intersection but instead hit the curb and launched into the San Diego Bay.

The only visible sign of the van in the water was the headlights, still on underwater.

Two of the officers who responded are certified divers but didn't have time to gear up. They jumped in anyway and pulled the couple from the water.

The water was 58 degrees. It was dark and the van was 12 feet deep in murky water -- a cold and treacherous rescue for harbor police wearing only their uniforms.

"They immediately jumped into the water and swam out to where it was and dove down to the vehicle," said Sgt. Dave Fouser with San Diego Harbor Police. "They broke one of the windows out and extracted the female driver from the driver's seat."

"They didn't have any lights with them or anything. So they're basically doing everything by feel."

They found a man floating near the back of the van. Both victims were unconscious and not breathing. Emergency crews started CPR on both people before putting them into ambulances and sending them to UCSD Medical Center.

Officers estimate the couple was underwater between 5 and 10 minutes.

"The male being in the back of the vehicle leads me to believe he had unstrapped his seatbelt and was trying to get out but was unable to do so," said Fouser.

Nearly half a dozen divers joined the search -- but there were no other victims.

Harbor Police are still investigating the cause of the accident. They say a similar crash happened more than a year ago at the same intersection.

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