Driver punched after plunging car in Russian River
By JULIE JOHNSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A motorist who drove over a steep bank and landed in the Russian River on Monday survived the crash and appeared, for the most part, unscathed until a nearby swimmer surprised him with a punch, authorities said.
The tan sedan burst through a guardrail at about 6 p.m. near Neeley Road and Orchard Avenue on the south bank of the river across from Dubrava beach near Guerneville, CHP officials said.
The car plummeted about 100 feet down a steep, bramble-covered cliff and landed in about eight feet of water, Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman said.
Some of the first callers to 911 said that people had jumped into the water to aid the driver.
The driver, identified in CHP dispatch reports as 28-year-old Jesse Abend, “opened the door and got out,” Baxman said.
“Someone swam over from across the river punched him in the face and swam back,” Baxman said.
The motorist was diving under the water to pull items out of the trunk when Baxman arrived in a boat.
He had a mark on his face from the punch and complained of pains in his neck and back, Baxman said. He said he fell asleep at the wheel, according to Baxman.
Paramedics took the man to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
Witnesses at Dubrava beach saw the confrontation but didn’t identify the puncher, Baxman said. Sonoma County sheriff’s officials said they weren’t investigating the matter.