Strangers help father pull boy from accident near St Pete school - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Strangers help father pull boy from accident near St Pete school

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Richard Aikman, former firefighter and bystander, helped pull people from the water Richard Aikman, former firefighter and bystander, helped pull people from the water

 St. Petersburg police cited the woman who caused a multi-car pile-up where cars ended up in a creek, with careless driving.
A group of strangers helped a father pull his 8-year-old son from a car in a St. Petersburg canal Tuesday as it sat upside-down and filled with

water according to police and eyewitness accounts.

"We didn't even know there was a kid trapped in there until a few minutes after the dad came out with the other kid," said Richard Aikman, a former firefighter who was one of the first to jump into the water. "You can either choose to stand and watch or choose to do something so I chose to do something."

It all started because of a chain-reaction car accident on 77th Avenue North, just down the street from Sawgrass Elementary School. Police think Tari Denehy, of St. Petersburg, lost control of her gold Chevy SUV, for some reason, rear-ended another vehicle, which caused a crash involving four other cars.

Her SUV also went into the canal with four children inside. All made it out okay and went to the hospital to get checked out.

But witnesses pulling up to the scene realized something was wrong in the silver Kia positioned upside-down behind the SUV.

The father had rushed to pull out his 9-year-old, but the boy's younger brother was still trapped inside.

"He was in there probably a minute, minute and a half - maybe two minutes not breathing," Aikman said. "He was buckled in. His seatbelt was locked. We couldn't get it undone."

The small group of people in the water were scrambling to figure out how to cut the boy out. It just so happens that Jason Schwartzwalder was standing right there on the bank. His boss lives across the street and Jason had come here this morning to do landscaping but didn't go to work because of the rain. Jason had a knife in his pocket.

"I just reached in my pocket and I flung it right to them probably 20 yards and he [caught it]," he said.

Witnesses believe it was the father who used the knife to cut the boy from the belt. That was just about the time Michelle Yocum ran up to the scene.

"People were just screaming...and they got him out. The boy was blue," she said.

She started to do CPR.

"I just breathed into his mouth and nothing happened. Then I tried to open his mouth but his teeth were clinched," she remembered.

When she went to lift his head, something happened.

"I opened his mouth and he started coughing and then he started crying," she said. "If they hadn't gotten him out - it just would've been a different story."

Paramedics took the 8 and 9 -ear-old boys along with their father to Bayfront Medical Center. Police believe all should be okay.

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