A deadly day on the Schuylkill River could have been even worse if not for the heroic actions of high school coaches and team members from a local rowing team.
Officials say Devon Womack, 31, was in the parking lot near Kelly Drive between Columbia Avenue and the Strawberry Mansion Bridge around 5:10 p.m. with another passenger. Police say Womack attempted to leave the parking lot but accidentally placed his vehicle, a 2000 Pontiac, in reverse. He accelerated, causing the car to plunge into the water.
Devon Womack, Credit: Family Photo
Coaches and members of Penn Charter's rowing team were on the Schuylkill at the time of the accident. Police say they helped rescue the male passenger.
"My head coach acted very quickly," said Michael Moulton, one of the rescuers. "She pulled one of the people in the car out."
While they were able to rescue the man, they weren't able to get to Womack.
"The car actually sunk before they were able to get the driver of the car out," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan. "The marine unit arrived on location within a few minutes."
Rescue crews and divers were eventually able to get Womack out but by then it was too late. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Womack's 10-year-old son was set to celebrate his birthday this weekend.
"He was a good father, he was loving and caring," said Womack's girlfriend Kia Robinson. "He always took care of his son."
"I want to talk to the guy who was with my brother," said Womack's sister Niema Womack. "I want to know what they were doing and what happened. That's all I want to know."
The passenger was in stable condition Tuesday night.
"Luckily, within seconds, the rescuer was in the water," said Sullivan. "We might have had a double tragedy here today."
Kelly Drive was closed from the Strawberry Mansion Bridge to Fountain Green. It has since reopened.
In March, a 73-year-old man died after he drove his car off Kelly Drive into the Schuylkill. Another man who tried to save the driver was injured.