By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rescuers who pulled a man from his car after it plunged into an icy creek are shocked he survived.

Yee Vang of East Bethel owes his life to those rescuers who had the right equipment to get him out quickly. The rescue happened last Friday afternoon on a rural gravel road in Isanti County right near the Anoka county border.

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Pictures show the rescue and the car that was upside down in the icy creek. When rescuers got to the scene, they knew no one had gotten out because there were no footprints in the snow.

The small SUV was traveling on the rural gravel road when the driver lost control, ran over a sign and flipped crashing into the freezing water. A passerby called 911, and Anoka County Deputy Jim Dudgeon was first on the scene.

“There was no noise coming from the vehicle there was no pounding no yelling no anything,” Dudgeon said.

Dudgeon put on a specially-insulated wet suit he carries in his squad. Assistant Isanti District Fire Chief Al Jankovich was there moments later. He grabbed a battery powered “Jaws of Life” that he always carries in his truck.

“When I have opened cars underwater before it’s never been a pretty site,” Jankovich said.

Jankovitch jumped on top of the car and Dudgeon went in the water. Using the “Jaws of Life,” they pried the door open.

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“To our surprise when we opened the door the single occupant was sitting in the car partially submerged, his first words were ‘Oh hi’ and then ‘Get me out,'” Jankovich said.

The two rescuers quickly got the man out.

“He was cold and his legs weren’t functioning,” Dudgeon said.

But beyond being cold the man was not hurt, a remarkable outcome these veteran first responders still can’t get over.

“We were as excited to get him out of there as we were excited to get out,” Jankovich said.

The man who was rescued — Yee Vang of East Bethel — did not want to appear on camera.  He did say he was very grateful to the rescuers.

He was in the water for about half an hour and he told me he thought he would have been dead in another half hour.

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(credit: Isanti County)

(credit: Isanti County)

Esme Murphy