Nathan Jennings, one of eleven whp helped save a woman from drowning in her submerged car

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Quick actions by a handful of motorists save the life of a woman whose car ended up in a retention pond.  One of the rescuers calls the Stateline home. Nathan Jennings, is the  Machesney Park man who went underwater searching for the driver.  He along with the other first people on the scene instantly pulled over and immediately went into the water to search for the driver that never came back up.

“And then when you feel a floating body it becomes a little uncomfortable, especially when they’re not alive at that point. I was assuming I was holding a dead body”, says Nathan Jennings.

A description of dramatic moments following a crash earlier this month, when Joanna Girmscheid’s car flipped over while exiting I-90 and sank into a retention pond, leaving only the back tires and bumper above the surface.

“I was driving home yea, headed west on 90 and then just a big splash”, Jennings explained.

Nathan Jennings and ten other passerby’s immediately pulled over and began rescue efforts.  Jennings remember every detail including a man in a green shirt, Matthew Worden, closest to the car.

“He [Worden] said you need someone to hold your ankles incase something happens in there”, says Jennings

Jennings had gone underwater looking for the driver in the submerged car.


Jennings says, “I just grabbed her ankle and pulled, you can see me when my head comes back up, I have a hold of her leg and I’m leaning backwards trying to pull, that’s when Matt reaches down and grabs and we both pull her out together”.

Jennings, Worden and the third man in the water, Derek Fivelson pulled the limp Girmscheid to shore where Molly Fivelson begins live saving CPR.

“Yea we were checking for a pulse there was no pulse so CPR saved her”, Jennings says.

It was an emotional and eye-opening finish to a situation that very well could have turned deadly, something Joanna Grimscheid realizes.

“Could have ended very tragically, it could have ended in a funeral”, says Grimscheid.

All recuers and Grimscheid were reunited at a ceremony honoring their heroic efforts by the Illinois State Police.  There’s a picture of Jennings and Grimsheid documenting that ceremony, just weeks after he pulled her lifeless body from the car. He says seeing Grimscheid alive and well was the best award he received that day.

“I felt grateful that I was actually able to save someone’s life. Everybody keeps telling me ‘we’ll never be able to repay you and stuff like that. but being able to save another human life is more payment that anyone can ever ask for”, Jennings says.

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