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Woman rescued after van drives off bridge into creek

By ErinPradia
Nov. 2, 2011 at 6:02 a.m.

Victoria County Sheriff's deputies stop traffic on SW Moody Street as the driver of an SUV that plunged into a creek is flown out by Citizens Air Medical to  Christus Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi.

A woman was rescued from her white Dodge van after it left the highway and went into a creek under the U.S. Highway 59 South bridge at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday.

The Victoria woman's white Chrysler Town and Country van was more than half submerged in water under the bridge.

Deputies, troopers and firefighters freed Anna Kupfernagel, 76, from the van and put her in a Citizens Air Medical helicopter for transport to Christus Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi.

Kupfernagel was having difficulty breathing, officials said.

Kupfernagel was traveling south in the far right lane of U.S. Highway 59 South when a person in the left lane of highway saw her cross in front of him and across the two north bound lanes before going off the bridge and into the water, said Department of Public Safety Trooper James Vinson.

The witness saw nothing wrong with the tires or the rest of the van and saw no change in speed as Kupfernagel crossed the highway and drove down the creek bank, Vinson said.

Mark Moore and Jason Cude were heading back to work for the afternoon when they saw Kupfernagel's van in the water and stopped to help, Vinson said.

Victoria Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor called Cude and Moore "the heroes of the day," as they kept Kupfernagel calm and stable and held her head above water until emergency service personnel arrived on scene.

Kupfernagel was reported in critical condition at 10 p.m., according to a hospital spokesman.

Vinson did not know what caused Kupfernagel to lose control of her van and go off the bridge.

Her van was removed from the water and towed, he added.

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