VIERA, FL (WESH/CNN) - As the car was pulled from the broken fire hydrant, it didn’t seem possible that such a minor crash could be deadly.
Officers say an elderly man accidentally crashed into the fire hydrant. Witnesses say the driver, Robert Dreyer, seemed unhurt and stepped out of the car about the same time that the ground gave way, and the water from the hydrant began shooting out.
Then, he dropped straight down into a hole about five feet wide, possibly carved out by both the force of the crash and the pressure of the water.
Witness Edward Cunningham tried to pull him out.
“It was pushing me out of the hole, and I weigh 220 pounds,” Cunningham said.
It took about five minutes to turn off the water hydrant, and that proved to be too long, said Lt. Channing Taylor of the Florida Highway Patrol.
“This is probably the first time I’ve heard this happen, where somebody hits a fire hydrant and drowns, or possibly drowns, because of it,” Taylor said.
Dreyer died on his 89th birthday.