Man calls 911 after truck plunges into freezing river

COLUMBUS, Ind. -- Rescuers saved a man from plunging deeper into icy waters.

On Wednesday afternoon, 66-year-old Gary Pugh was driving along County Road 325 West.  Police say Pugh's vehicle hit a slick spot, went down a steep embankment and landed in the Driftwood River.

Pugh’s truck flipped over and the water was freezing, but somehow he managed to get his phone and call 911.

“I hate to think what might have happened,” said Lt. Matt Harris with the Columbus Police Department.

Dispatchers used GPS to pinpoint exactly where Pugh was. On the 911 recording you can hear the dispatcher encouraging Pugh to remain calm and informing him that help is on the way.

A Columbus police officer was first on the scene and got right to work.

“They had to actually slide down the bank and into the edge of the water and force open the door of the vehicle.  The way it was sitting there was debris that prevented this gentleman from getting out of the car,” said Harris.

Rescuers used ropes to reach Pugh and pull him out from underneath his truck. It’s believed he was in the icy water for at least 15 minutes.

“He was soaked when he got out the vehicle,” said Harris.

Pugh was showing signs of hypothermia and was taken to the hospital.

“He was very fatigued for being in cold water for as long as he was and was unable to get out of and up the bank without assistance,” said Harris.

Dispatchers, rescuers and a victim all worked together, and ended up saving a life in a matter of minutes.

“We could’ve been looking at a much different scenario,” said Harris.

Hospital officials confirm Pugh has been treated and released. Officers are reminding all drivers to slow down and use extra caution during the winter months.