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Man survives crashing into pond

Passers-by came to his aid after seeing a car drive off the road and into the water. The driver apparently had a blackout.

Published September 19, 2006

Two passers-by plunged into a murky retention pond Monday to help a man whose car landed in the water after he blacked out behind the wheel, authorities said.

Around 12:30 p.m., James Covais, 45, of Tarpon Springs was driving west on Tampa Road, near East Lake Road, when his Buick LeSabre veered off the shoulder into a retention pond, according to reports.

Two men who noticed what was going on pulled over and jumped into the pond to help him.

Covais was not hurt, but was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital to be checked out, said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Larry Coggins.

Mark Goss, 44, of Holiday, was headed west on Tampa Road at the intersection of East Lake Road when he "heard a big crash and turned around and saw a purple car flying off into the air and landing in the lake," he said.

Goss stopped his car and ran to the edge of the pond, where he saw Covais struggling in the water. He jumped into the pond, which was about 6-feet deep, he said.

Samuel Cosgrove wasn't far behind. He had been heading east on Tampa Road to a Radio Shack store when he saw "a 20-foot wave on the side of the road," he said. He got out of his car and jumped into the pond as well.

"It looked like the wave ride at Busch Gardens," said Cosgrove, 53, of Palm Harbor. "And that could only mean one thing - a car had gone into the water."

The two men helped Covais out of the car and pulled him ashore. Paramedics transported him to Mease Countryside Hospital. East Lake Fire and Rescue responded to the scene and assisted in pulling the LeSabre out of the pond.

Covais was still in the hospital on Monday evening for monitoring. He has had at least one previous blackout episode, Coggins said.

Neither Goss nor Cosgrove consider themselves heroes. But in diving into the pond to help a stranger, Goss ended up helping an acquaintance.

Goss and Covais both work in the tile business and have crossed paths on doing jobs in the area.

"It happened so quick, I didn't know who it was," Goss said "I just thought this is someone who needs help."

[Last modified September 18, 2006, 23:07:58]

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