A car went out of control and plunged into the potomac River at the mouth of Rock Creek yesterday after the driver's foot slipped from the car's brake onto the accelerator propelling the car over the sidewalk, where it crashed through two trees and landed in about six feet of water, Park Police reported.
George Goldworth, 56, of the District suffered only cuts, bruises and exposure from his plunge into the creek, accordng to a spokesman for the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital.
Goldworth lost control of his car at about 3 p.m. at the intersection of Rock Creek Parkway and Virginia Avenue NW, across from the Watergate apartment and office complex.
After the car flopped into the water, joggers, bicyclists and motorists converged at the edge of the creek, near the Thompson's Boat Center. Several persons stripped to their underwear and splashed into the water to help Goldworth who was trapped inside the overtuned car.
"I got to the car first and tried the door but the door wouldn't open," said Dave Desjardins, a mathematician with the Defense Mapping Agency. "I dove down, under the car and saw the window was open. I tried to grab his arm and pull him out but his seat belt was fastened and I couldn't budge him.
"I went back up and then went back down to unfasten the seat belt and pull him out," said Desjardins. He was driving along Rock Creek Parkway with his family, on the way home from the zoo, when he saw a cloud of dust arise from the spot where the vehicle careered out of control into the creek.
Desjardins said Goldworth was "turning blue" when rescuers, all civillians, pulled him to the bank and began giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Desjardins said Goldworth had been under water about two minutes.
Accordng to several bystanders Goldworth's car was stopped at the stoplight at Virginia Avenue and Rock Creek Parkway when the back wheels on the car began spinning faster and faster.
". . . They (the back wheels) started spinning so hard they were smoking," said Lawrence Campbell, who was a few cars behind Goldworth's at the stop light. "I thought he wanted to drag race. He didn't start moving right after the light changed then - vroom - he took off."
U.S. Park Police Lt. B.R. Fraizer said the car traveled about 100 feet from the light before it settled upside down in the creek.
"The only reason he's live is that the bypassers took it on themselves to go in there and get him," said Fraizer, staring at the car's left rear wheel, the only part of the car that was sticking out of the gasoline-covered water. "In a city like this that's so big and impersonal its incredible that so many people stopped and then went in the water to help him."
Goldworth was rescued by members of groups of joggers, bikers and motorists who frequently pass by the creek mouth at the tip of the park. The rescue was accomplished before police arrived.