Phoenix/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on February 12, 2024
Chandler Teen Braves Icy Waters to Aid Driver After Medical Emergency Behind the WheelSource: Google Street View

A heroic high schooler didn't think twice before diving into the frigid waters of a Chandler lake to try and save a man who had driven his SUV into the water on February 7. The teen, Ethan Cakmak, and his father, Erkan Cakmak, saw the vehicle veer into the lake near Dobson and Queen Creek Roads FOX 10 Phoenix reported.

Erkan Cakmak had heard a "plump" from his balcony and witnessed the incident, prompting him to quickly alert his son who had just arrived home from school. "I realized that he needed help, he might drown. So, I ran outside, through the gate, took my shirt off, took everything out of my pockets and I jumped into the water," Ethan told FOX 10 Phoenix. Despite not being able to open the vehicle's window and the driver being unresponsive, Ethan swam back to shore to wait for the first responders after ensuring the car stopped sinking.

The driver, Todd Buckner, remains in the ICU battling the aftermath of what the medical staff at Chandler Regional Medical Center believes was a stroke and seizure leading to the loss of control of the car. Todd's family has been swept up in a "rollercoaster of emotions," according to his daughter Ally's interview with FOX 10 Phoenix. "I miss my dad a lot," she said, expressing deep gratitude towards the teen’s life-saving effort.

Police are commending the teen and his father for their quick actions. Chandler Police Sgt. Ricky Gonzales said, "That's pretty cool," highlighting the importance of citizens looking out for one another. Ethan Cakmak added to the sentiment, saying, "I think as humans we need to be a community for each other and be there for each other when they need help. Help people when you can," FOX 10 Phoenix reported.

The family was also touched by the kindness shown by others during this harrowing time, including the Southwest flight crew helping Todd’s wife, Rachelle, quickly return to Arizona from California. "For me personally, that girl, Maria, at Southwest, I mean I was out of my mind. I didn't even remember what gate I came out of. And just the kindness, the human kindness, when you're in this kind of situation, it means a lot," Rachelle revealed to FOX 10 Phoenix.

The local community and the Buckner family continue to extend their thanks to the individuals involved in the rescue and support during this crisis. Investigations by Chandler Police into the reason behind Todd Buckner's sudden swerve off the road are still ongoing.