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Driver Survives for Hours After Plunging Into Klamath River

A Klamath River man managed to survive for hours in freezing water after his vehicle flipped upside-down into the river.

Posted: Dec. 12, 2018 10:45 AM
Updated: Dec. 12, 2018 11:06 PM

YREKA, Calif. — A Klamath River man managed to survive for "nearly five hours" in the water after he crashed his car, flipping upside-down into the river, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP).

Dispatch received a call regarding the crash just before 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning after the caller noticed a vehicle "upside-down" in the Klamath River. When emergency personnel arrived, they found a red 2018 Ford Fusion in the river along State Route 96, west of State Route 263 — "on its roof, almost fully submerged, and the four-way emergency flashers were on," CHP said.

It wasn't until a coalition of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and rescue divers managed to pull the car out of the water that they realized the driver, 28-year-old Michael Finn, was still inside and quite alive.

"The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Dive Team Commander, Sergeant Giannini, was extremely instrumental in this rescue." said CHP Officer Shadwell. When a tow truck arrived, the Dive Commander hooked up the vehicle to recover it from the Klamath River.

When rescuers found Finn inside, Cal Fire and Mt. Shasta paramedics began providing medical aid until Finn could be rushed by ambulance to Fairchild Medical Center to be treated for exposure.

"Mr. Finn told officers he may have crashed into the water around 3:00 AM this morning, he was pulled from the vehicle at approximately 7:55 AM, and he endured nearly five hours breathing from a pocket of air inside his vehicle," CHP said.

According to officials at Fairchild, Finn remains in "guarded" condition at the hospital's ER. His vitals remain unstable following the morning's ordeal.

CHP did not how the crash may have happened, but they did issue a reminder to drivers to "slow down during hours of darkness" when roads are often icy.

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