Two people are dead after a car plunged into the Housatonic River on Friday afternoon in Seymour.
Dozens of firefighters rushed to the scene and even commandeered a bystander’s boat to immediately dive down to the car, but “everything was against us,” officials told reporters at the scene Friday night.
“It’s extremely difficult, but the fact is we did everything we could ... there was no stone unturned,” Seymour Fire Chief Michael Lombardi said. “It’s a difficult day, but again, we used all of our resources.”
The victims, one man and one woman, were not identified publicly Friday evening pending notification of their families, but officials indicated they were from a nearby town. Officials expected to release more information about the pair over the weekend.
Investigators believe the car crashed into the river off Roosevelt Drive sometime before 3:45 p.m., when emergency personnel were first notified of the crash by witnesses on the water and the banks of the river. The car was about 75 yards from the shore and boaters on the water tried to rush to the car when it first slammed into the water but it sank too quickly for them to help, officials said.
Deputy Chief Chris Edwards was among the first firefighters on the scene and commandeered a bystander’s boat to get a team of firefighters out to the sinking car, he said. They were able to dive to the vehicle, but they couldn’t break into it in the “dark and murky” water about 16 to 20 feet down, he said.
Instead, they tied lines to the car and were able to tie those to a nearby trestle to keep it from sliding downriver in the heavy current in that area, he said.
About 75 firefighters responded in all to try to help, plus the dive teams from Newtown and Middlebury, in addition to EnCon and local police investigators, Lombardi said.
It was not immediately clear how the car ended up in the water, but a preliminary investigation indicated it likely was an accident, police said. Officials cautioned that assessment could change as the investigation continues into the weekend.
One of the first responding firefighters who dove down to the car suffered minor injuries and was evaluated at an area hospital, Seymour EMS Chief Kyle Kelly said.
“It was a tragic day this afternoon. everybody did everything they could,” Kelly said. “We had services from all over ... a commendable job to them and the bystanders who assisted.”
Zach Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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