HEROIC CITIZEN SAVES DRIVER FROM CERTAIN DEATH

On November 15, 2010, at approximately 2:10 a.m., Ocean City Police and Fire Departments responded to a parking lot located in the area of 5300 block of Coastal Highway, in reference to a car that had been driven into a canal.

Officers observed a car that was completely submerged in the canal on the south side of the parking lot. While at the scene, police located a female later identified as Taylor Cole Vanderhook, 23, of Fenwick Island, DE, at a bus stop in the area of 54th Street.   Police noted that Vanderhook was completely soaked with water.

While at the scene police were contacted by Christopher Sullivan, general manager of Yang’s Palace at 5401 Coastal Highway, who stated he had observed the car being driven by Vanderhook enter the parking lot at 5311 Coastal Highway.  Sullivan noted the car was driving with a flat tire on its rims because of the noise the car made when it entered the parking lot.  Sullivan then observed the car strike a boat that was out of the water on blocks in the parking lot. The car then stopped for a short time and then drove into the canal.

Sullivan told police that when he saw the car drive into the canal, he ran down to the parking lot and over to the car, which was still floating in the canal with Vanderhook seated in the driver’s seat.  While the car was still floating in the water, Sullivan attempted to get the car near a floating dock, however, was unable to maneuver the car close enough to the dock causing Sullivan to lose his balance and fall into the 50 degree water.  Sullivan then noted the car with the trapped occupant was beginning to fill with water and sink.  Sullivan located a piece of wood in the parking lot, which he used to smash out the rear window of the now partially submerged car.  With only about 6 inches of airspace in the car, Vanderhook was able to climb out of the back of the car.

By the time the first officers arrived at the scene the car was completely submerged. Members of the Ocean City Fire Department’s Water Rescue Team also responded to the scene and checked the submerged vehicle to ensure no other persons were located in the vehicle.  Vanderhook was located by police at a bus stop on Coastal Highway.

Police arrested Vanderhook for driving under the influence of alcohol.  Vanderhook was also charged with leaving the scene of a property damage accident for striking and damaging a boat that was located in the parking lot.

After Vanderhook was taken into custody, she attempted numerous times to offer police money in exchange for not pursuing the charges. Vanderhook has been charged with the following:

  • Bribe/Attempt to Bribe Public Employee (CR 9-201b)
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (TA21-902a1)
  • Driving Under the Influence Per Se (TA 21-902a2)
  • Driving While Impaired by Alcohol (TA 21-902b1)
  • Failure of Motor Vehicle Driver to Furnish Written Identification information on Unattended Damaged Property (TA 20-105c)
  • Negligent Driving (TA 21-901.1b)

Ocean City Police and Fire Departments would like to acknowledge the selfless act of bravery committed by Mr. Sullivan for his heroic actions this morning.  This citizen braved 50-degree water in dark and foggy weather conditions, placing him at great risk to come to the aid of Vanderhook.  This selfless act saved Vanderhook from certain serious bodily harm and/or death.   The OCPD plans to present Mr. Sullivan with its highest Civilian Award for “Outstanding Service,” which is awarded to civilian personnel or a citizen who performs some act involving personal danger above and beyond that which is normally required or expected of a civilian.

Vanderhook was seen by an Ocean City District Court Commissioner and released on her own recognizance.