The Ohio State Highway Patrol is hailing a Portsmouth man as an unadulterated hero, crediting him with saving the life of a woman and mother trapped underwater in an upside-down SUV.
“If it wasn’t for him things would have turned out a lot differently,” said OSHP Sgt. Shane Salyers, who received a 911 dispatch call about an accident on Allegheny Hill Road near State Route 140, about three miles from U.S. Route 52 around 8:15 p.m. Thursday.
Salyers was the first law enforcement official on the scene.
Salyers and Trooper Byron Hayes said Eric C. Wallace, a former EMT, watched in his rear view mirror as the SUV driven by Heather Grizzle flipped over into a creek alongside Allegheny Hill Road.
“He turned around and went back,” Salyers said.
Both he and Hayes noted it would have been very easy for Wallace to simply keep going.
According to Salyers, Grizzle, who had five young children with her between the ages of three and eight, was trapped in the car with her head pinned underneath her dashboard as well in about a foot of water.
Salyers said Portsmouth and Porter Township EMS were on the scene. But Hayes and Salyers credited Wallace with extricating an unconscious Grizzle from the car and apparently immediately beginning CPR on the woman.
“He basically brought her back to life,” Hayes said.
Salyers said Grizzle was attempting to pass a car in front of her when she almost collided head on with Wallace’s car, which was heading in the opposite direction. She instead veered off the road, smashed through some road signs and ended up upside down in a creek, the name of which was not clear as of press time Friday.
Both Hayes and Salyers said all five children in the car essentially escaped physically unharmed. Salyers said one child may have received a broken toe but there were no serious injuries other than to their mother. Hayes said Grizzle sustained a head trauma and was taken to Southern Ohio Medical Center. Her condition was unknown Friday evening.
According to social media reports on the incident, Grizzle was driving a 2015 Toyota Highlander at the time of the accident.
Both Hayes and Salyers said the cause of the accident is still under investigation. Neither would comment on whether or not Grizzle was impaired at the time of the incident. In any case, Salyers said a toxicology report was not yet available Friday.
Both troopers had nothing but praise for Wallace. Neither knew the man’s age but repeatedly gave him kudos for returning to the scene of the accident, especially considering he was nearly a victim in the accident himself.