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Man survives 5 hours submerged in freezing water after crashing car into California river

Click to play video: 'Man spends 5 hours in car submerged in water after crashing into California river' Man spends 5 hours in car submerged in water after crashing into California river
The 28-year-old driver reportedly told first responders he had survived by breathing from an air pocket inside the car – Dec 14, 2018

A man survived for five hours inside a car submerged in water after he crashed into the Klamath River in Siskiyou County, Calif., in the northernmost part of the state.

The driver told first responders he survived by breathing from an air pocket inside the car, NBC5 News reported.

Members of the dive team that pulled him from the wreckage were stunned to find him alive.

“I’m still in disbelief that he was still alive,” said Sgt. Robert Giannini, dive team commander with the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

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The crash happened before 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday along California State Route 96.

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The driver, 28-year-old Michael Finn, was released from hospital on Thursday.

Giannini told reporters he was only in the water for seconds to connect a cord to the car’s axle but that the water was freezing.

READ MORE: 5 things to do if you’re in a car crash

“It was very cold… and I was only in for a few seconds,” he said.

He told local media that when a tow truck lifted the car from the water, the air bags were blocking the windows. When a deputy opened the door, rescuers saw there was a man inside who was still alive.

“He opened his door… and the guy looked at him and told him, ‘Help me,’ and my deputy goes, ‘Oh my Lord, there’s somebody alive,’” said Sgt. Giannini.

“I believe he just had the will to survive.”

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