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Good Samaritan rescues woman after car goes into Kansas River Bridge in Lawrence

Zach Beebe good samaritan jumped in Kansas River to rescue woman
Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 23:29:42-04

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A good Samaritan risked their life to rescue a woman from the Kansas River Bridge after her car went into the water on Thursday.

It occurred around 9:30 a.m. underneath the U.S. 40 and 59 bridges in downtown Lawrence.

According to Zach Beebe, it's usually a serene spot, so it startled him when he heard a speeding SUV.

"When I mean she took off, she got every bit of this no peel out here," he said. "She just gripped everything with the tires and was gone."

Beebe briefly made eye contact with the 19-year-old woman behind the wheel.

"Whatever was eating her up, it was just overcoming that smile as she was passing me," Beebe said.

He says the barreling Ford Explorer floated when it hit the water, then started sinking.

"I hear, ‘I can't swim,' out of her mouth really, really loud," Beebe said. "She says it a couple more times. At that point. I'm like, 'Oh my.'"

Beebe, who was cleaning his friend's truck, ran to the shoreline and jumped in.

"I was swimming as hard as I could," Beebe said. "Right as I grabbed her, her facial expression was of relief. She went from panic mode straight to calm."

He held her tight as they swam back, it wasn't easy.

"She starts pushing me slightly under, and at that point, I almost panicked," Beebe said. "I kept my calm, kept my composure and I did a barrel roll with her still as I'm rolling. I'm keeping her above the water."

Once they were on land, Beebe was wondering one thing.

"I said ‘You have a brain, a heart, a family,'" he said. "You know, there's people that do love you. But what were you thinking you know pulling this stunt?"

Lawrence police are investigating what led the woman to do what she did.

She was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and is getting the care she needs.

Beebee can't forget how profoundly grateful the woman was he saved her life.

"[I was] Just helping out. I was just at the right place, right time," he said. "And you know, I made sure the right things happened at the right time."

Eventually, members of the Douglas County Underwater Search and Recovery Team recovered the woman's SUV.