Officers, firefighters, good Samaritan pull woman from sinking car in Groton

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GROTON -- An amazing rescue was caught on camera in Groton Thursday. Groton Police officers, firefighters, and a good Samaritan worked together to pull an elderly woman from a sinking car in the waters of Eastern Point Beach Thursday afternoon.

People lunching at or strolling through Eastern Point Beach, just before 2 p.m. Thursday, were stunned by what they witnessed. Marie Fitzgerald, 85, of Groton, appeared to be parking her blue sedan when, all of a sudden, she sped up, jumped a curb and crashed through a walkway railing, bounding off rocks below and into the ocean. Fortunately, her Honda Civic remained right side up.

Several people called 911, which FOX 61 obtained the audio for.

"It took a while for help to come, other than a good Samaritan and he was struggling because the current was taking the car out," said Candice Chambers, who was at Eastern Point Beach with her two grandchildren and captured the entire ordeal on her phone.

The man first to tend to the woman smashed the front windshield with a piece of the broken barrier, but that created more opportunity for the surly surf to fill the passenger compartment. That's when a police lieutenant arrived and jumped into action, smashing out another window.

"I was able to reach him, unlock the door, the handle and, when I opened the door, she was at the very top of the roof," said Lt. Erick Jenkins
of the Groton City Police Department.

Fitzgerald had only her chin, mouth and nose above the waterline when Jenkins broke the passenger window.

"I was able just to grab her by her shoulders and pulled her out the door and right over to the shore," said Jenkins, who noted Fitzgerald never lost consciousness and was alert.

"She was, I think, still in a state of shock, but she did well," said Jenkins.

Groton City Assistant Fire Chief Robert Tompkins arrived on scene just after Fitzgerald was pulled from her sinking car. He was shocked to find out who the victim was.

"I went into the ambulance talk to her a little bit and she happened to be a neighbor of mine,” said Tompkins, who says Fitzgerald has been a neighbor for over 20 years and was one of his sixth-grade teachers.

"When you see the pictures of how close it was for that car to be swamped and you consider the fast actions of Officer Jenkins and the other police and firefighters, it doesn't always end that way. It was a good day," said Tompkins, with a broad smile.

Fitzgerald politely declined an interview request, but is at home and says she’s feeling fine after was anything but a typical day at the beach