Woman rescued from sinking car at Groton's Eastern Point Beach

Groton police officers arrive on the scene to assist John Sidlinger of Mystic, in the water, who tried to rescue a woman after her car went through the railing at Eastern Point Beach in Groton Thursday, March 31, 2016.  The police and firefighters were able to get the woman out of the car.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Groton police officers arrive on the scene to assist John Sidlinger of Mystic, in the water, who tried to rescue a woman after her car went through the railing at Eastern Point Beach in Groton Thursday, March 31, 2016. The police and firefighters were able to get the woman out of the car. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Groton — A Groton City police officer, with help from a good Samaritan, pulled an elderly woman from a car sinking in the waters off Eastern Point Beach on Thursday.

The incident occurred about 2 p.m. when John Sidlinger, 34, of Mystic, was in the parking lot of the beach eating sushi with his girlfriend.  

He said the unidentified woman appeared to be trying to park in a waterside spot when her car accelerated through the concrete and metal barrier into the water.

“I knew I had to go in,” Sidlinger said.

Sidlinger, an Eagle Scout, went to the rocky shoreline and attempted to help the woman, who appeared to be in shock, get out of her car as it started filling with water.

Because the woman could not open the door, Sidlinger used a metal pole from the dismantled guardrail to smash the front windshield.

His girlfriend, Katie Kimball of Noank, called 911.

Sidlinger handed the woman the end of the pole but was unable to pull her out through the opening as the car continued to bob in the water.

Police arrived as the water level in the vehicle was approaching the woman’s neck and the car was banging against the rocks with the waves.

Groton City Police Lt. Erick Jenkins, who arrived shortly before Groton City firefighters, smashed the passenger side window and was able to open the door and pull the woman out, according to Groton City Fire Chief Nick DeLia.

She was placed on a backboard and taken to the shore, where she was transported by ambulance for evaluation to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

She was conscious and alert at the time, he said.

The car, a Honda Civic, sank to the bottom moments later.

The woman was later identified by police as 85-year-old Marie Fitzgerald of Groton.

Police said the cause of the accident remains under investigation. They are also trying to figure out how to get the car out of the water.

g.smith@theday.com

Members of the Groton police and fire departments place a woman on a backboard after she was pulled from her car after it went through the railing and into the Thames River at Eastern Point Beach in Groton Thursday, March 31, 2016.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Members of the Groton police and fire departments place a woman on a backboard after she was pulled from her car after it went through the railing and into the Thames River at Eastern Point Beach in Groton Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
After breaking the windshield with a long pole John Sidlinger of Mystic enters the water to try and help the  woman in the car after her car went through the railing into the Thames River at Eastern Point Beach in Groton Thursday, March 31, 2016.  The police and firefighters were able to get the woman out of the car.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
After breaking the windshield with a long pole John Sidlinger of Mystic enters the water to try and help the woman in the car after her car went through the railing into the Thames River at Eastern Point Beach in Groton Thursday, March 31, 2016. The police and firefighters were able to get the woman out of the car. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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