A motorist who was apparently drunk and drove into Lake Calhoun Sunday night could be facing charges, but she’s alive thanks to the heroic efforts of two passersby who freed her from the half-submerged vehicle and pulled her to safety.
The 25-year-old woman was screaming “I love you, I love you” as Ben Younan and another man pulled her out of the car that had come to rest in the water at the end of the fishing dock on the east side of the lake near 36th Street.
“It was pretty wild,” said Younan, who saw the woman drive the car into the lake.
Younan was on his way home from a birthday celebration around 11 p.m. when he came upon the woman’s vehicle at 36th Street and Hennepin Avenue S. Traffic was not moving and motorists were honking. Younan figured her vehicle had broken down and stopped to render aid. But he saw something much worse. The woman was slumped over the steering wheel.
“Her eyes were closed and her head was down. I thought maybe she had a stroke or was passed out,” he said. “She didn’t look well at all.”
He knocked on her window and she woke up. She put the vehicle in neutral and revved the engine, then shifted into drive and took off.
“I knew this was not going to end well,” he said.
Younan followed as she blazed down 36th Street toward Lake Calhoun. She was speeding and barely missed an oncoming van. Then she ran the traffic light, split two signs and continued into the lake.
“It was like a tidal wave at Valleyfair,” Younan said of the impact.
Another man jumped in to save her but he could not get the car door open. Younan grabbed a wrench from his truck, took off his sweater and also jumped into the chilly lake. As the car filled with water and started to do a nose dive, Younan was able to yank the back passenger door open.
The woman was screaming as she jumped on top of the do-gooders, who swam her to shore. She told Younan to “tell my boyfriend” that she’s all right.
From there, police and fire rescue personnel took over, and took the woman to the Hennepin County jail. She was booked on probable cause of drunken driving, said Sgt. Catherine Michal of the Minneapolis Police Department.
The vehicle was pulled from the lake.