GREENACRES, Fla. - After Jasmin Gonzalez lost control of her Chevy Cobalt and landed in a canal, she thought she was going to die. She was certain no one could rescue her in time.
The water gushed into her car and rose to her head. She drank it. She wanted her death to be over quickly, even though she knew her family's pain wouldn't.
"I didn't want to feel anything," Gonzalez, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, said Thursday.
But because seven men driving on Interstate 95 pulled over and ran to her aid, the July 24 accident just wasn't her time.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, Florida Highway Patrol and West Palm Beach Fire Rescue honored the seven men today at fire rescue headquarters in suburban West Palm Beach for saving Gonzalez's life. The men were given certificates, smiles and "thank yous" for what they all say they hope anyone would do for them.
Todd Truemper, 54, said he was driving a "couple hundred feet" behind Gonzalez and saw her lose control of her car near the Forest Hill Boulevard exit. The car crossed all northbound lanes, slid on the grass and landed upside down in the canal.
"I jumped in the water to get whoever out of the car," said Truemper, of Hollywood. "I grabbed the door handle and it came off in my hand. I went to the other door and the handle came off in my hand."
As he persisted, his wife was on the I-95 waving her hands to get more help.
Jeffrey Lasnier, of West Palm Beach, was driving about 15 cars behind Gonzalez and also saw the accident.
Lasnier, 50, said he pulled over, ran down into the water, and helped the other men.
"She came right to the windshield and looked at me," he said with a smile. "I said, 'she's alive'."
Erik Hadad, 45, of Boca Raton, said he grabbed a metal object and was able to smash the windows. The men flipped the car over right-side up, pulled her out and carried her to the nearby ambulance.
Gonzalez, a freshman at Florida Atlantic University who wants to be a nutritionist or a professor, suffered scrapes and bruises but has recovered.
"It's just a miracle. It was an amazing act of kindness..." said her father, Manny Gonzalez. "I just can not imagine the pain of a parent losing a child."
Daniel Alkobi of Boca Raton
Erik Alkobi of Boca Raton
Erik Hadad of Boca Raton
Jeffrey Lasnier of West Palm Beach
Carlos Rangel of Wellington
Keith Richardson of suburban Lake Worth
Todd Truemper of Hollywood
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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