A Florida deputy rescued a man who saw his hands in a sinking truck

A Walton County sheriff's deputy is credited with saving a driver's life after seeing hands on the wheel of this truck in Hogtown Bayou.

A Walton County sheriff’s deputy is credited with saving a driver’s life after seeing hands on the wheel of this truck in Hogtown Bayou.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office photo

One Florida deputy responded to two separate accidents in one night, and officials say it all started with the terrifying moment he saw hands clutching the steering wheel of a sinking truck.

The tense series of events began around 10pm on Saturday, October 29. when the pickup truck was found in Hogtown Bayou, according to a news release from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. The crash site was about 65 miles east of Pensacola on the Florida Panhandle.

“As he ran to the end of the dock, Deputy Pitaniak saw hands on the steering wheel inside the truck,” the sheriff’s office said.

“Without hesitation, Pitaniak took off his gear and dove into the water, swimming to the flooded car. The male driver was clearly disoriented and Deputy Pitoniak had to forcefully remove him from the truck, carrying him through the water to the dock.”

Second Deputy Sgt. Josh Bennett pulled the driver out of the water. Pitaniak then swam back to the truck to make sure no one was inside, officials said. The truck was empty.

Both Pitoniak and the driver were examined by medics at the scene, officials said. The driver’s identity and condition have not been released.

“After leaving the scene in Hogtown Bayou to change clothes, (Pitaniak) drove to an accident and immediately rendered aid to the victim whose vehicle had overturned in the middle of Highway 98 at S. Church Street,” the sheriff’s office said.

“Although he was still wet from the previous call, it didn’t stop him from trying to put out a small fire in one of the vehicles involved in the crash and then meeting with deputies where they located the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash. .”

The sheriff’s office did not say whether Pitaniak ever had a chance to change into those wet clothes during his shift.

This story was originally published October 31, 2022 06:36.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering topics including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history and a minor in geology.

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