15-year-old hero talks about jumping in to save driver after car goes into water

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AUBURN TOWNSHIP, Ohio – 911 calls have been released after a 15 year-old boy jumped into LaDue Reservoir to rescue a man who drove his car into the water. The Geauga County Sheriff’s Office said the driver of the car, Richard Caldwell, 30, experienced a medical issue before his Ford Focus careened into the water around 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Samuel Sell, 15, was fishing at the reservoir with his cousin when they witnessed the car splashing into the water and stepped in to help.

“They just, like, floored it into the lake right down the ramp, and they`re just sitting in their car,” Sell’s cousin told a 911 dispatcher. “Nobody’s really responding.”

Unable to get Caldwell’s attention from the shore, Sell swam 100 feet toward the car and was ready to use a fishing knife to break the windows to free Caldwell.

The 911 caller reported that Caldwell began beeping his horn but did not appear to be trying to open the door to escape.

“I started swimming out there, and I started talking to him, I said are you ‘ok,’ and at first he didn`t really answer me,” Sell said.

Investigators said Caldwell couldn't even remember how or why he drove toward LaDue.

“At first I was unsure what to do, and then I was like ‘I need to do this’ because I like to think of things as in, ‘If this happened to me, I would want somebody to react to help me,’” Sell said.

Rescuers responded, pulling Sell and Caldwell from the water. They credited Sell’s quick action with helping to save Caldwell’s life.

“It`s very rare we have somebody in the right place, at the right time. Usually, people don`t want to get involved nowadays, and we`re very proud he got involved and helped,” Assistant Auburn Twp. Fire Chief Mike Cardaman said.

Deputies said Caldwell, who recently moved to the area from Texas, was treated and released from Geauga Medical Center.