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Children rescued from overturned car in St. Pete canal

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Published:   |   Updated: September 24, 2013 at 08:56 PM

A man and his two sons were trapped in their car in a water-filled canal Tuesday afternoon after a five-vehicle crash near Sawgrass Elementary, shortly after school let out.

At least one man rushed into the canal to pull the man and his sons, ages 8 and 9, out of the silver car, which had flipped and landed upside-down in the canal, according to St. Petersburg police.

Shortly after 2:30 p.m., many of the cars heading west on 77th Avenue North were filled with parents and the children they had just picked up from school. Suddenly, a gold sport-utility vehicle sped up, St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz said in a release. The SUV smashed into the car that ended up in the canal, sparking a chain reaction crash. The car hit a pickup, which hit a bus taking children to an after-school karate class, the release states.

The SUV sped toward the canal and ended up in the water a few dozen yards beyond the silver car, according to the release. The woman and the four children inside were also pulled out. The SUV’s driver, who has not been identified, was at fault in the wreck, and charges are pending, according to Puetz.

The occupants of both vehicles were taken to Bayfront Medical Center, but there were no apparent life-threatening injuries. The 8-year-old who was trapped in the canal was unresponsive after he was rescued, but a woman who was there performed CPR on him, according to police.

It all unfolded as Heather Gheoua waited to pick up her two sons from Sawgrass Elementary. She heard screams but wanted to make sure her boys were safe before going to see what happened.

“It was crazy: Garbage men running over, people going toward the water trying to do what they can to help,” she said. “Kids screaming. I’m in shock myself, having two kids that go to this school.”

None of the children on the bus was injured. One of the other drivers also sought medical attention, Puetz said.

Police have not released the names of those involved in the wreck and are still gathering details about what happened.

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