Woman Rescued After Driving Into Maine River

Joy Hollowell

Updated 6 months ago

A student at MCI in Pittsifeld had a good reason for missing classes Monday.

The teenager was helping to save a woman’s life.

The call came in around 10 am Monday.  An SUV had gone off Route 100 in Pittsfield, hitting an embankment and a telephone pole.  The vehicle then plunged into the Sebasticook River, trapping 69-year old Dolores Withee inside.  Pittsfield Patrol Officer Jeff Vanadestine was the first to arrive.

“When I pulled up on the scene, the vehicle was just a little bit out of the water,” says Officer Vanadestine. “I could see her hand on the back windshield. I swam out and tried to talk with her. I tried to break the back window out with my forearm. I was unable to do that. Chief Emery came out with a baton and was able to smash the back window out.”

That’s when MCI student and Pittsfield junior firefighter Ryan Michael Havey showed up.

“When he said she was drowning and they needed more help, that’s when I jumped in and swan out and helped them,” says Havey.

“She was fully submerged for at least 3 or 4 minutes,” adds Officer Vanadestine.

He dove under the murkey water to try and reach Withee.

“She actually got sucked out of the car a little bit,” says Officer Vanadestine. “We were able to get her on top of the roof and haul her up. She was unresponsive.”

“I remember there was a little float,” says Havey. “I went out and grabbed it and we put her on it until a boat came by.”

Withee was taken to shore where EMTs began CPR. She was then rushed to the hospital. Authorities believe a medical condition caused Withee to crash.

“Once I knew she was in the ambulance and she was breathing, I felt good about myself helping her and helping them save her,” says Havey.

“This is one of the higher moments for me as far as saving someone,” adds Officer Vanadestine. “I’m glad we were able to be in the right place at the right time. That’s what it’s all about.”

We’re told Withee was first taken to Sebasticook Valley Hospital then transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Withee’s daughter sent an email to TV5 saying her mother is still unconscious.


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