Radio chatter reveals moments before officer saves man who crash - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Radio chatter reveals moments before officer saves man who crashed in pond

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Sumter Police Officer Quentin Eley (Source: Sumter Police Department) Sumter Police Officer Quentin Eley (Source: Sumter Police Department)
Ioan Cimpean (Source: Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center) Ioan Cimpean (Source: Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center)
The scene. (Source: Carolyn Callahan) The scene. (Source: Carolyn Callahan)
SUMTER, SC (WIS) -

A Sumter police officer rescued a suspected DUI driver after he crashed into a pond Friday night.

Sumter Police officer Quentin Eley, 25, noticed two cars stopped on Second Millpond Bridge with their hazard lights on. After asking a few questions, he learned there was a car in the water and a man still inside.

Eley radio'd in to headquarters about the situation.

"There's a vehicle in the pond. The person appears trapped at this time. Need fire and ambulance," said Eley.

He knew he had to do something and fast.

"We have a very limited amount of time to make a decision in doing what we do," said Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark.

When Eley found out a man had driven his car into Second Millpond, he didn't waste any time.

"He needs help," said Eley on his radio. "We need somebody to try to swim out to him. If we can get another unit, I'll be able to do it."

"He dove into the water without regard for his own safety," Roark said. "He was able to open the door and found Mr. Cimpean."

He pulled the man out of the car, and brought him to shore.

"For someone to take off their weapon and as much of their equipment as they can, and dive into freezing cold water to save somebody, it's hard to put into words how proud I am actually of him and the Sumter Police Department," Roark said.

Eley is a new officer. He's only been on the force for about five month.s His story could have had a much different ending.

"He did exactly as he's been trained, which was to react on his instinct in training," Roark said.

The chief said Eley likely saved a life, by following his gut, and his duty, to serve and protect.

Roark said what Eley did shows that the training officers go through does work.

As for the driver, who was identified as 38-year-old Ioan Marcel Cimpean, he refused treatment at the hospital and was transported to the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center on a DUI complaint.

Cimpean was released Sunday around 4 p.m. on a $2,267 surety bond.

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