An Air Force sergeant and a bicyclist may have saved the life of a man who drove his car into an east-central Fresno canal filled with water Wednesday, police said.
Fresno police Lt. Joe Gomez said Kou Thor, 19, of Fresno, was driving his Acura east on McKinley Avenue around noon when Paul Alley, 48, of Fresno, pulled in front of Thor on his bicycle. Thor swerved to avoid Alley, slamming into the center median. The force from this collision caused the Acura to move back across the eastbound lanes and jump into the canal.
Gomez said a passing good Samaritan and Alley jumped into the swiftly moving water to help Thor, whose car was filling up with water. Alley held the driver’s door open, while the good Samaritan pulled him out of the vehicle.
The good Samaritan later identified himself as Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Ginther with the Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
“He (the driver) had a look on his face that I’ll never forget, and I knew at that moment that I was doing the right thing,” Ginther said in a release from the Air National Guard’s public affairs office.
Ginther said he was on his way back to the Fresno Air National Guard base when he saw the accident and pulled over to help.
Alley was not hurt, but he was cited for making an unsafe lane change that caused an accident. Thor suffered moderate injuries to his forehead.
Gomez said the actions of Ginther and Alley likely saved Thor, who later told police he couldn’t swim.