3 Recognized For Saving Man Who Crashed Into Canal In Madera County

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KMJ/KFSN) — Officers are crediting Good Samaritans with saving the life of a driver who was trapped underwater after crashing into a Madera County canal.

The California Highway Patrol says a 24-year-old man lost control of his Subaru Outback on Road 35 near Avenue 9 on Sunday morning.

The SUV landed on its roof and became partially submerged with the driver still inside.

Two men, Paul Hansen and Miguel Bazan, went into the canal and got the driver out of the vehicle.

“(Bazan) was able to open the door. I grabbed the top of the door, he grabbed the bottom, we opened it up. And I think it was just some perfect chain of events,” recalled Hansen.

“It just happened to be too that an off-duty nurse was right there too. So, as soon as we got him on the bank and rolled him over, she knew to start CPR immediately.”

That nurse, Sana Neal, was heading home after her shift at Valley Children’s Hospital when she witnessed the crash.

“Once I saw him flip over into the canal, it was just automatic I ran to the scene right away as I was calling 911,” explained Neal.

She and Hansen took turns doing CPR until paramedics arrived, which is a a skill Hansen learned while coaching basketball in Madera Unified several years ago.

I haven’t taken a class in a while but like I said it comes back to you really quickly,” Hansen said.

Together, the three of them brought the driver back from the brink of death.

“We were all kind of yelling at him, telling him to fight because he was losing oxygen pretty fast. He did not have a pulse when we first pulled him out,” Hansen said.

“I’m just glad they showed up and they were with me, because if I had been by myself it would have been much harder to pull him out and do CPR,” Neal added.

Neal says taking action so quickly at the scene was especially critical because Madera Community Hospital remains closed, so the driver had to be taken to Fresno for treatment.

Both she and Hansen encourage people to learn C-P-R — because you never know when you and a couple of strangers might get to save a life.

The CHP says it is thankful for those three Good Samaritans.

Because of their heroic acts, the agency will nominate them for the Fresno and Madera Counties Police Chief’s Association Citizen Award Program.