SEFFNER (FOX 13) - A driver on Interstate 75 found himself in a dangerous and nerve-wracking position after losing control of his car, veering off the highway, and splashing into a retention pond - in the dark.
It was about 10:25 p.m. Thursday night. The road was slick from rain on I-75 south near Seffner. Nicholas Fry was headed toward the I-4 ramp when he started to hydroplane.
His car went through the grass and into a retention pond. As it sank into the dark water, Fry crawled up to the roof.
"I just drove off the highway," Fry said in a 911 call. "I'm not hurt or anything, but my car fell completely off the highway. I'm in water right now."
"Can you get out?" the 911 operator asked.
"I'm out," Fry said, "I'm standing on top of the car and [expletive] excuse my language, I'm discombobulated."
A witness also called for help.
"A car just swerved into a ditch and it's pouring down raining and everybody is driving by because nobody knows that the car's in the ditch," the woman said.
It's a difficult location to spot in the dark. Making matters worse, the car was sinking and Fry was stranded in the middle of a pond - in Florida.
We all know what reptiles live there.
"I hope I don't have to jump in this [expletive] water," Fry said.
"Well it's Florida, man so," the operator said. "You know what I mean. I hope you don't have to, either. I can't imagine what's, you know, in there."
About 15 minutes into the call, you can hear sirens as help arrives. "Hey! Over here!" Fry is heard yelling.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies tossed Fry a life vest before firefighters helped him climb to safety.
"We utilized our extension ladder and/or roof ladder and made a bridge and he was able to utilize those ladders to make his way off the roof of the vehicle and onto dry land," said Battalion Chief Ronnie Johnson.
Johnson said Fry did the right thing, quickly climbing out of the window before potentially becoming trapped. He said, in water crashes, a tool you can grab at any hardware store could save your life.
"It's a window punch/seat belt cutter," Johnson said. "It would definitely work in any situation where you would need to relieve yourself and exit the vehicle."
While Fry's car has seen better days, he was able to walk away with barely a dent. The HCSO dive team was able to tow the submerged vehicle out of the water.