Shane S. Mitchell and Lisa Missana saved Marla B. Zick from drowning, Tampa, Florida, March 31, 2016.
Zick, 26, remained in the driver’s seat of her car after it left the highway, went down an embankment, and entered a retention pond. Upright, the car drifted to a point about 80 feet from the bank and then submerged in water about 10 feet deep.
Mitchell, 32, carpenter of Tampa, was driving nearby and witnessed the accident. He drove to a point on the bank opposite the car and then removed his shoes, entered the water, and swam to the vehicle. Submerging repeatedly, he was unsuccessful in attempts to open the car’s driver’s door and to release Zick’s safety belt, which he reached through the open window of that door. Visibility was severely compromised in the murky water.
About that time, another motorist who had driven upon the scene, Missana, 47, administrator , also of Tampa, also swam out to the car, but from a closer bank. She too dove repeatedly to access and free Zick and was also unsuccessful.
While she swam to the bank for a cutting tool, Mitchell submerged again, released Zick’s safety belt, and resurfaced. Missana returned, and together she and Mitchell then dove to the car and removed Zick, who was unconscious, through the window. Surfacing, they swam with her the 30 feet to the nearer bank, where others helped them lift her from the water.
Zick required hospitalization, but she recovered. Mitchell and Missana were nearly exhausted, and Missana bruised an arm and required treatment for ear pain. They too recovered.
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Carnegie Heroes Shane S. Mitchell, left, and Lisa Missana, both of Tampa, Fla., unveil their Carnegie Medals for the first time. Volunteer presenter Ralph Cash Kaschai, of Orlando, Fla., presented them with the medals at a private ceremony held June 29 in Tampa.
“Welcome to the Carnegie Family,” Kaschai told the recipients.
In March 2016, Mitchell and Missana responded to the scene of an accident in which a car entered a retention pond and submerged in water about 10 feet deep. Reaching the scene first, Mitchell entered the water, swam about 80 feet to the vehicle, and submerged repeatedly, reaching through the open driver’s window to attempt to release the driver’s safety belt. Missana then came upon the scene and also entered the water and also unsuccessfully attempted to free the driver. As Missana headed back toward the bank for a cutting tool, Mitchell was able to release the driver’s safety belt, and Missana returned. Together they dove again to the car and removed the driver, swimming her to the bank.
Kaschai said the presentation and discussion that followed was enlightening.
Kaschai was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 1978, after he helped to rescue two men from a burning sedan in Orlando.