In a Good Friday story of heroism, three rescuers, including a 29-year-old DeLand teacher, pulled an unconscious driver from his submerged pickup truck in a pond on Interstate 4 near Sanford, likely saving the man’s life. The incident took place March 30 during the morning-commute hours. Walter Boyles, 56, of Deltona, was driving south on I-4 when he suffered a medical episode and passed out. According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, his 1997 Ford truck veered off the road and into a retention pond near mile-marker 101, or around the exit for Seminole County Road 46A (H.E. Thomas Jr. Parkway). His truck became submerged, but two witnesses — Angel Cruz, 35, of Sanford, and teacher Brittainy Daiger, 29, of DeLand — stopped and entered the pond in an attempt to rescue Boyles. FHP trooper Roberto Ortiz also happened upon the scene of the incident, and assisted in the rescue. Boyles was pulled from his vehicle and brought out of the water, unconscious.

He was later taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford and treated for minor injuries, according to the FHP. Daiger, who works as a teacher at Lake Mary Preparatory School, said as she was exiting I-4, she saw a vehicle pulled to the side and a man — who she would later learn was Angel Cruz — sprinting to the retention pond. She pulled over and got out, and Cruz told her there was a vehicle in the pond. “The guy had his shoes off, and was getting in the pond, so I followed him,” Daiger said. “[His] name was Angel. How funny is that?” Trooper Ortiz soon joined the pair in the water, she said. “Thankfully [Boyles’ truck] had manual windows so I was able to roll the window down,” she said. “Angel and I pulled the guy out as the truck was sinking. The truck went under in probably a minute.” Daiger said she was grateful multiple good Samaritans responded to the scene. “I don’t think either of us could have done that on our own,” she said. “It was a big team effort by everybody.” Paramedics and fire-rescue personnel showed up soon after, and transported Boyles — who was at that point conscious, but not fully lucid, Daiger said — to the hospital.

Reflecting back on that morning, Daiger said it was serendipitous that she passed the pond at exactly the time she did. “It really was God’s timing,” Daiger said. “I had left my phone in the house and had to run back and get it. I was worried I was going to be late for work, but I feel like that was the reason.”

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