Driver escapes sinking car in Douglas reservoir

DOUGLAS, Mass. (WHDH) — A young driver is lucky to be alive after his car landed upside down in Whitin Reservoir in Douglas around 9 p.m. Sunday.

Jeffrey Stanhope, the 21-year-old driver, was brought to UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester and treated for hypothermia and cuts.

"He told me that at first he couldn’t get out because he couldn’t get the windows open, then he finally found a door latch and then he got the door open and then he swam to the top,” Dan Dudley, the man who called 911 for Stanhope, said.

Stanhope was wearing his seat belt when his car ended up upside down in the freezing water. He managed to get himself unbuckled and out of the sinking car.

“I’m sure he lost his breath when he hit that cold water. To get that back and try and control yourself is remarkable,” Douglas Fire Chief Kent Vinson said.

He swam to safety and then walked about a third of a mile for help. The conditions even dangerous for dive teams, and they were suited up for the elements, as they helped get the car out of the water.

It's still unclear what caused the crash.

“It’s a narrow road, he was coming downhill. Whether or not the road was slick because it was dampness or the ice he lost control,” Douglas Police Chief Patrick Foley said.

Police say this should be a reminder for drivers to slow down when driving conditions are sub-par.