CHACKBAY — Port Allen police officer Robert Cannon jumped into Bayou Chevreuil on Wednesday, helping rescue a man who had driven his SUV off the road and was trapped in the submerged vehicle.
It's the second time in less than a week the veteran law enforcement officer has helped somebody after spotting a traffic accident while off duty.
Wednesday's crash occurred around 6 p.m. along La. 20 in Lafourche Parish. The first was on July 21 when Cannon and another man helped pull an elderly woman from a truck that had overturned on the Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge.
"I'm just doing what we are trained to do," the 51-year-old father of five sons said on Thursday. "I'm privileged and honored to do the job I do."
Cannon said he was traveling east on La. 20 Wednesday evening when the crash in Lafourche Parish happened. Cannon was heading back to his home in Gonzales after attending weapons and mass destruction training in Houma when 30-year-old Aron Jackson drove his 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer off the highway into Bayou Chevreuil, between South Vacherie and Chackbay.
Cannon, who has been in law enforcement for 18 years but joined the Port Allen Police Department June 1, is a member of the department's special response team. The special task force was recently formed with the blessing of the Port Allen City Council.
"I was probably three cars behind, so I didn't see exactly what happened but I saw something occur on my left," he recalled Thursday. "So I turned on my lights, drove around traffic and got out my car where I saw people standing around."
Cannon then learned from bystanders that a vehicle had run off the road and crashed into the waterway. When he asked where the driver was, they told him the person was still inside the vehicle, which was completely submerged underwater.
Cannon said he immediately kicked off his work boots and tore out of his uniform shirt before diving into the bayou, joining another bystander who had also jumped in to rescue whomever was inside.
"I swam to where the vehicle was and waved over these two fishermen that where nearby in their boats," Cannon said. "Me and the other bystander took turns going under until we were able to pull the driver out of the vehicle through the driver's side window."
Jackson had a head injury and wasn't breathing, he said.
According to Louisiana State Police, the two fishermen in the area, Gabriel Rouge and Kevin Scioneaux, provided a life jacket and a kayak to float Jackson to safety.
Cannon and several volunteer firefighters, who later showed up at the scene, confirmed there were no other occupants in the vehicle by diving back in and searching the vehicle after getting Jackson ashore and preforming CPR on him.
Trooper 1st Class Jesse LaGrange said in a news release Thursday Jackson suffered moderate injuries and was take to University Hospital by helicopter.
In their statement, troopers thanked Cannon, Rouge and Scioneaux for their quick action.
Cannon joked Thursday he's just thankful there weren't any snakes in the water that day.
"I'm scared to death of snakes, that's why I don't freshwater fish," he said. "Had there been any snakes out there, they would have had to perform CPR on me."