A 45-year-old Huntington Beach woman was in critical condition after she apparently tried to kill herself by driving her car into the ocean Wednesday morning, police said.
About 7:50 a.m., a fisherman saw the woman drive her 1990 Volkswagen Jetta down a boat ramp behind a Huntington Beach fire station near Warner Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach Police Lt. Dan Johnson said.
When the witness didn't see the woman surface as the car disappeared under the water, he ran to the back door of the fire station for help. Firefighter Andrew Crichton said the witness "looked panicked" as he recounted what he saw, and both men ran about 30 yards to the ramp.
"When I got there, I didn't see the car, but I did see bubbles. So I took off my boots and jumped in," Crichton said.
The water was so murky that it took him "a couple of tries" to even locate the car, which had sunk about 20 feet, Crichton said. Another firefighter, Brian Springer, swam to the car carrying an ax, which Crichton used to break one of the windows and rescue the woman.
"When I got her out, she was blue, unconscious and not breathing," Springer said.
Investigators ruled the incident a suicide attempt. The woman's husband told police that she had been depressed lately, Johnson said.
"You can't accidentally drive into that area and end up in the water unless you want to," Johnson said.
The woman was taken to Columbia Huntington Beach Hospital and Medical Center, where she was being treated in the intensive-care ward.
"It looks like she's going to make it," Crichton said.
The firefighter suffered a cut to his palm during the rescue, which was the first time he had saved a human life in his career, he said. Crichton said it didn't cross his mind at the time that the woman was possibly attempting suicide.
"I just had to get her out," Crichton said. "It's part of the job. I know it sounds corny, but it's teamwork. The paramedics guys were great. They saved her life too."