By Sam Aselstine
A Monticello woman escaped serious injury when she drove her car into Little Cedar Lake last Friday morning.
Madeline Blackstone, 18, lost control of her 2000 Mercury Sable while traveling westbound on 80th St. NE about 9:30 a.m. Friday, May 18, Capt. Greg Howell of the Wright County Sheriff’s Office said.
Alert citizens and an off-duty firefighter were first on the scene and were able to rescue Blackstone from her upside-down vehicle as it began to take on water.
Blackstone began fishtailing and lost control of her vehicle, overcorrected and, in doing so, crossed the road. The car rolled going down the steep incline before entering the lake upside down, colliding with a dock in the process, said Deputy Josh Hinton.
Lori Blomberg, who lives across the road from the lake, says she heard a scream just about the time of Blackstone’s accident. Thinking perhaps that a dog had been hit, she called out to her daughter, Kerry, who raced to the scene and jumped into the lake. Blomberg swam to the car and established communication with Blackstone, who was trapped in the vehicle and could not free herself from her seat belt.
Blomberg slipped a knife through the door to Blackstone, who was unable to cut her way free from the belt.
About this time, Todd Johnson, a Monticello firefighter for 19 years who lives about a mile from the lake, arrived on the scene.
Johnson, who owns American Heating and Air, jumped into the lake along with Todd Knute, who was helping him at work that day.
“I saw a car had flipped upside down in the water,” Johnson said of his arrival on the scene. “I considered breaking the side window out,” but with Blackstone upside down, he opted instead to go through the trunk.
Johnson and Knute pried open the trunk and Johnson made his way inside the vehicle, pushing down the back seats.
“I crawled through and cut her out,” he said. “I happened to know her. I told her to relax: You’ll be just fine.”
By the time Blackstone was freed, fire and medical vehicles were on the scene. She was checked by Allina Ambulance personnel and released without the need for a trip to the hospital.
“She was a very lucky girl,” said Assistant Fire Chief Daryl Gilles.
Howell said the investigation into the accident is ongoing.