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Abbeville police recount harrowing rescue of submerged SUV

Posted at 6:42 PM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 19:56:02-05

A car crash survivor is praising Abbeville Police Officers for their courage after they saved the driver and his girlfriend.

Vernell Cain was driving with his girlfriend early in the morning last Monday when he says a seizure caused him to veer off of S. Hospital Dr in Abbeville.

“I had a seizure she said and she couldn’t stop me or anything because she said I was locked up to the wheel. My foot was locked into the gas pedal. The next thing you know we were tumbling and flipping and we were all in the river and I can’t swim,” explained Vernell Cain.

The SUV flipped into a coulee and became fully submerged.

It had pinned Cain’s girlfriend to the side of the mud-bank.

“So, I was able to get on top of the truck and hold her by her shoulders just enough so she could keep her face above the water,” explained Cain.

When officers arrived they jumped into the water without hesitation.

Sergeant Eugene Rougeaux was almost washed into a drainage pipe.

”So, I went around to the pipe and jumped into the water, and when I did that I actually went too close to the pipe, and my feet got taken from me, and I was starting to go into the pipe,” explained Rougeneaux.

“When I was showing up, I saw this occurring. I ran on the drain pipe itself, laid down on it, reached down and grabbed Sergeant Rougeaux,” explained Lieutenant Jonathan Touchet.

Sergeant Rougeneaux says he was able to save himself by keeping his composure and using teamwork.

“I’m not gonna just start screaming and hollering because then make more people jump in the water (putting them in danger) just in case they get sucked in with the current. It was more of hey catch your head, you know what needs to be done. Hey, look up, the lieutenant was there, hey what’s wrong, and I just told him hurry up and grab me so I can swing my feet across,” explained Rougeneaux.

When the fire department and Acadian Ambulance showed up the police officers worked as one cohesive unit to accomplish the rescue.

“As the fire department showed up, they were coming into the water, and we told them look, just don’t come into the water, we’re already in the water. Just assist us by handing us ladders and equipment,” explained Rougeneaux.

“The fire department they were able to put a ladder across from the bank to the roof of the car. My officers were able to help the driver who could not swim, hand-walk his way across the ladder. And, the female passenger, who could not move at all, we were able to get a spine board to her, my officers were able slider her on a spine board across the ladder,” explained Touchet.

“I’m very very proud of these guys! They did what law enforcement officers all over the country do. They didn’t know these people, but they were willing to risk their lives to save them,” said Chief W. Spearman.