EDWARDSVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- FOX 2 obtained exclusive video that tells an amazing story. Madison County emergency crews were called to rescue 62-year-old Paul Wanda. Wanda fell asleep at the wheel and drove his car off of the road into a creek in Edwardsville Thursday night near Country Club and Bluff Roads.
The car was found upside down and submerged in two feet of water for more than 2 minutes. That's when Steven Slemer who just happened to be an off duty firefighter with the Glen Carbon Fire District arrived and jumped in to help.
"One gentleman said the water is rising and sure enough it was getting higher and higher. He had difficulty keeping his head up out of the water so I was reaching in there lifting his head keeping his face out of the water," said Slemer.
The 33 year fire veteran and oil refinery worker broke the car window to get Wanda out, he also says at one point the 62-year-old stopped breathing.
"All of a sudden his arm twitched he started breathing on his own again and it was unbelievable. A couple of other gentlemen came down and gave me a knife cut the seatbelts and we got the guy repositioned and these two gentlemen they helped push and lift the vehicle," Slemer said.
Slemer is one of at least five people who tried help, including Madison County Sheriff's Deputy Timothy Lawrence and a woman who saw the accident and called 911.
According to the Madison County Sheriff's Department, Wanda was flown to St. Louis University Hospital and is listed in good condition.
"The private citizens, the Madison County sheriffs, Mitchell Fire Department everybody did their part. And the gentleman who threw me that knife and I caught it, it’s unbelievable," he said.