28-year-old man crashes his car into frigid river and survives nearly 5 hours in the submerged vehicle by breathing through an air pocket

By Ashley Collman

A 28-year-old California man is lucky to be alive after crashing his car into a frigid river and surviving nearly five hours in the submerged vehicle.

Michael Finn told rescuers that he crashed his car into the Klamath River around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Just before 5:30 a.m., someone called 911 to report that a vehicle was flipped and submerged in the river, near the town of Yreka.

Dive teams and a tow truck managed to remove the Ford Fusion from the river at around 7:55 a.m. — and they were shocked to find someone alive inside.

“We were expecting to find a body,” Yreka California Highway Patrol Officer Jason Chilton told Redding.com, adding that it’s “very rare” for someone to survive such a crash.

Chilton said the car’s side airbag obstructed their view into the car so they didn’t realize Finn was alive and still inside until they opened the door. Officials say the water was likely up to Finn’s shoulders and that he had to move to the backseat to find an air pocket to breathe out of.

“We’re just very glad that he is OK,” Chilton said. “He was soaking wet when he came out.”

Finn was taken to a local medical clinic to be treated for hypothermia and has since been released.

Officials haven’t said what caused the crash, but in their press release, they warned local drivers to slow down in dark and icy conditions.

“He lucked out,” Chilton said. “It’s kind of a merry Christmas, happy new year, and happy birthday all rolled into one.”

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