Rockford-area residents rescue woman from submerged car off Interstate 90 near Huntley on Aug. 3, 2018. (Video provided by Illinois State Police)
Eleven people were presented commendation letters recently from the Illinois State Police in Downers Grove for helping save the life of Joanna Girmscheid, age 26, of Libertyville, after her car crashed into a retention pond at the interchange at I-90 and Route 47.
A tollway traffic cam captured the rescue that occurred about 3:15 p.m. August 3, 2018 at I-90 and Route 47 in Huntley.
“They were all heroes that day.”
— Leo P. Schmitz, Illinois State Police Director
Five of the rescuers got into the water to remove Girmscheid, who was then unconscious, from her upside down car in water chest deep. Nathan Jennings is the rescuer that actually pulled Girmscheid out of the car. Matthew Worden anchored Jennings’ legs so he had leverage to pull Girmscheid out.
Molly Fivelson, a graphic designer who is CPR-certified, rushed to start CPR chest compressions as soon as Girmscheid was brought out of the water. Ismael Gutierrez, an Illinois Tollway worker who is CPR-certified in Mexico, was also involved in delivering chest compressions.
Illinois State Police said Joanna Girmscheid was traveling westbound on I-90 and exiting on the Route 47 southbound ramp when she lost control of her vehicle and ended up in the pond. She fought to get out of the car, even breaking her hand, and lost consciousness.
The rescuers even worked to confirm that there were no other occupants in the vehicle, using tools to access the car and search it carefully. Girmscheid regained consciousness, but she was not able to communicate whether there were any other people in the car. She was the only person in the car when it crashed.
Huntley firefighter/paramedics transported Girmscheid to a local hospital. She is mostly recovered, except for a healing fracture in her hand.
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