'Heroic' Georgia college students on weekend road trip rescue family from sinking car

A group of women traveling on a recent weekend road trip in Georgia can now add “lifesavers” to their résumés.

Five students from the University of Georgia are being honored as heroes after they took action during a dramatic turn of events last weekend.

Eleanor Cart, Kaitlyn Iannace, Clarke Jones, Jane McArdle and Molly McCollum were traveling from Athens to Savannah for a weekend of St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

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After turning along Murray Hill Road in Burke County, the group of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority sisters approached the Brier Creek bridge — and saw something odd.

They saw a dust cloud below the bridge with a flash of white light, McCollum told Fox 5 Atlanta.

The students immediately acted when they saw that people were still in the vehicle, which was almost fully submerged. (Burke County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office)

“We kind of like pulled over super fast, turn, go down this hill to this boat ramp area — and we just see this white minivan submerged underwater,” she said.

McCollum told Fox News Digital that she was originally in shock at what she was seeing — saying she knew she had to step in and help.

“I also knew in the moment [that] had I not stepped in and done something about the situation in front of me, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself,” she said.

The young women proceeded to jumped out of the car and rush toward the three passengers.

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“Two of the women quickly entered the water to get the victims to safety while the others gathered supplies and communicated with emergency responders,” according to Online Athens.

“We see the mom pop out of the car… We’re just tag-teaming, trying to get the children out of the water,” McCollum told Fox 5 Atlanta.

The five students involved in helping a distressed family were headed to Savannah, Georgia, for St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  (Burke County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office)

The college student said that along with the mom, there were two children in the back of the car —one about 4 years old.

“He was fully under[water] for … we think about four or five minutes,” she said.

While one student called 911, another put her lifeguarding skills to the test by performing CPR on one of the children.

Jones said it was a “worst-case situation” —but somehow, within a minute, the child began responding.

“It was so surreal. I mean, the mom just went and picked up her child and we all just kind of looked at each other and instantly started sobbing,” Jones said.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office said all three survivors of the incident were transferred to a hospital — and that they were released the next day.

The three people, including two children, who had been inside the submerged car on a creek on the side of the road were taken to the hospital.  (Burke County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office)

McCollum told Fox News Digital that she was grateful she and her friends were able to provide aid to the family.

“I think we are constantly placed in the right place at the right time to be of help to others,” she said.

She continued, “The submerged vehicle was a unique catastrophe, but there are people struggling all around us all the time. If we can become in tune to this constant opportunity to uplift one another, the outcomes can be just as impactful as in assisting in catastrophic events.”

The five women who took part in the rescue were honored with a lifesaving heroism proclamation from the University of Georgia.

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UGA president Jere W. Morehead said, “I am so proud of these heroic students and their exemplary act of courage and teamwork,” in a press release.

All five first-year students will also be honored at this year’s Kappa Alpha Theta Grand Convention for their fearlessness and bravery.

The Sardis Police Department wrote in a post on Facebook that the five young women “saw the accident happen and without hesitation entered the water and began to assist the occupants out of the vehicle. These five young ladies were the primary factor in ensuring that the occupants were able to get out of and on top of the vehicle.”

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It also thanked local emergency service groups for their help in the rescue efforts, as well.

“We especially want to thank the 5 students for their selflessness and act of courage! The term ‘hero’ gets said about sports stars and others, but these five are true heroes!!” the department added.

“All occupants were conscious and alert when transported from the scene. Pray for the family!”

For more Lifestyle articles, visit foxnews.com/lifestyle

Brittany Kasko is a lifestyle production assistant with Fox News Digital. 

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