Pregnant Md. woman rescued from car submerged in creek

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009

By the time paramedics found Sadé Davis's body in a car submerged in a creek Saturday, she was clinically dead.

The 23-year-old Clinton woman, 34 weeks pregnant, had no pulse and was not breathing. One paramedic who was on the scene admitted that, for a moment, she thought, "We cannot save her, but we're definitely going to save this kid."

But neither, it seems, was destined to die.

On Wednesday, Davis was released from Washington Hospital Center, having suffered minor injuries. Her unborn son, whom she has named Jaden Christian, is also fine.

"God had the right people in the right place at the right time," Davis said.

She was headed to a friend's house in Fort Washington at about 10 a.m. Saturday. The two had plans to travel together to another friend's house to take maternity pictures, Davis said.

Driving north in the 8900 block of Temple Hill Road, Davis lost control of the car. She apparently crashed through a guardrail, authorities said, and rolled down a 30-foot embankment. Her 2008 Ford Focus came to rest upside down in a creek.

As luck would have it, a passerby saw the car veer off the road. Even luckier: He was able to flag down paramedics on their way to another call nearby, that of a woman reportedly having a stroke but who later refused medical treatment from a different crew.

Lt. Dale Giampetroni and her crew raced to the submerged vehicle. After testing the stability of the vehicle and the depth of the water, Giampetroni climbed on top of it and started banging. No response. The crew broke out the windows and tried to open the doors. No luck.

Then, "like magic," Giampetroni said, the locks popped, and the doors opened. The crew cut the seat belt and hauled Davis to land. That's when they discovered she was pregnant.

Medics began CPR, then put Davis in an ambulance. Soon she was coughing and her pulse returned. Perhaps because enough water had been forced out of her lungs, the paramedics said, or perhaps because the cool temperatures had slowed the dying process, Davis was going to live.

"Our saying is, they're not dead until they're warm and dead," said David Wilson, a firefighter and medic who also responded to the accident scene.

Davis returned home Wednesday -- still in some pain, she said, but happy to be alive. The crash apparently flipped her unborn to the breech position, but a sonogram showed a strong heartbeat, and she can still feel his kicks.

"He hasn't stopped kicking," Davis said. "And the sonogram pictures, his little fists balled up and his feet moving, I'm like, oh, man, he's going to come out a fighter."

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