Trooper Edward Pope
Recently, Trooper Edward Pope was dispatched to a crash on Interstate 75 in Charlotte County. The FHP dispatcher advised Trooper Pope that a vehicle was in the water and was sinking with an unconscious driver still inside.
Only being a few miles from the location of the crash, Trooper Pope arrived at the scene within minutes, where he observed several bystanders pointing toward a white van that was approximately 70 feet from the roadway in the water. There appeared to be one male trying to get out of the passenger side window and an older male clinging to the roof of the sinking vehicle.
Without hesitation, Trooper Pope removed his gun belt and ran into the water, but quickly realized the water level was well above his head in certain areas. Pope reached for the one male trying to exit the vehicle and brought him to an area of the water where he could stand and return to shore. The passenger then yelled out that his father couldn't swim. Trooper Pope quickly returned to the sinking vehicle.
The elderly man holding onto the roof could not speak English, appeared very scared, and would not let go of the vehicle. While the van was starting to tip over, Trooper Pope tried to communicate with him to let go, while at the same time trying to prevent the van from tipping over. It appeared that the man was worried about his belongings on the roof of the vehicle and would not cooperate unless they were also taken. Trooper Pope quickly grabbed the items and tossed them over to the passenger, who was still in the water. He then grabbed the elderly man, holding him by his left arm, and swam to an area of water where they both could stand. Charlotte EMS subsequently arrived on the scene and began to check the two men for injuries. With the two males safely on shore, the bystanders again pointed toward the water where two alligators could be seen swimming toward the van which was, by that time, only displaying a small portion of the front left corner of the roof and the driver side portion of the windshield.
After EMS cleared both men and the crash report was concluded, Trooper Pope drove the victims to their place of employment in Ft Myers, where family members were waiting for them.