Bystanders began shouting for help after police say a 24-year-old man drove his car into the Schuylkill River.
“After a moment we did see the person pop out of the driver’s side,” said Bill.
“When he went under again and didn’t pop up, I knew that there was something wrong,” said Jen.
Witnesses told police that the man backed up, then accelerated into the Schuylkill River, as if on purpose. Investigators later confirmed that the man was trying to commit suicide. He likely would have succeeded if Bill didn’t decide to take action.
Bill jumped into the river and swam towards the man. When he finally reached him, he began to pull him to safety, offering him reassuring words along the way.
"Every time I would get ahold of the gentleman he would say, 'Let me go! Let me go!' and try to push away," said Bill, who has worked as a rehab nurse at the Penn Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine for six years.
“I was just saying to him a couple times, ‘it can’t be that bad, it will get better. It wasn’t that unusual for me, I work on a brain injury unit so I deal with people that have emotional issues every day.”
Bill eventually was able to get the man to the edge of the river. Police then used a rope to get the two out.
“He’s a hero as far as I’m concerned,” said Jen. “I’m just so proud to call him my husband.”
“I would like to think that if I wasn’t here someone else would have done the same thing,” said Bill.
Saturday’s dramatic rescue comes only 10 days after Chrystal Wallace Ferrall accidentally drove her car into the Schuylkill. Her body was discovered last Monday.
The man was transported to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he will undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Police have not released his name.