William J. Matheson II, 53, farmer, saved Mary F. Barber, 46, from drowning, Belle Glade, Florida, August 9, 1965. Mrs. Barber lost control of her four-door sedan which plunged into Ocean Canal, landing in an almost vertical position 35 feet from the bank with the front end buried in silt. The sedan contained four other persons, none of whom could swim. Matheson stopped his automobile and dived into the dark water of the canal, which was generally 14 feet deep. Poisonous snakes and alligators inhabited the area. Matheson swam to the sedan, the rear of which projected two feet above the water. Matheson submerged several times but was unable to open either rear door. He then submerged to nine feet below the surface and found an open window. He reached into the sedan, grasped Mrs. Barber, and pulled her from the vehicle despite her struggles. Surfacing, Matheson towed Mrs. Barber 35 feet and reached the bank nearly exhausted. Others who had arrived aided them from the water. Learning that there were others in the sedan, Antonio R. Arvesu, Carlos Reynaldos, and Alberto 0. Villageliu said they would try to get them. The three men removed their shoes and shirts and swam to the submerged automobile. By their combined efforts they opened the doors on the right side. Submerging again at the front door to nine feet below the surface, Arvesu reached inside the sedan. He found Jeffrey, who was inert, and took him to the surface. Reynaldos towed Jeffrey to the bank, where Matheson began artificial respiration. Returning to the sedan, Reynaldos joined the other two men in searching for additional occupants. Arvesu and Villageliu found Mrs. Lucille H. Todd wedged beneath the dashboard in the front compartment, but neither they nor Reynaldos could free her. All three men made further unsuccessful attempts at a depth of nine feet. Reynaldos, with his upper body inside the sedan and his knee against it for purchase, then succeeded in freeing her. Villageliu aided in taking Mrs. Todd to the surface. They towed her to the bank as Arvesu followed. By then about 15 persons had gathered at the canal, and Matheson had partially revived Jeffrey with the help of William G. Hoffman, Jr. Mrs. Barber said that her two daughters still were in the automobile and urged that someone get them. Hoffman, who felt that the girls might still be alive in an air pocket in the sedan, removed his shoes and dived into the canal. He swam to the automobile, submerged, and probed the rear compartment, where there was an air pocket. He found no one. Hoffman then submerged to nine feet at the open front door. Probing the front section he located Gloria T. Barber. Hoffman removed her from the sedan and towed her to the bank. On his second trip he found June E. Barber, and towed her to the bank. Mrs. Todd, Gloria, and June were pronounced dead. Jeffrey later succumbed to his injuries.
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