GROSSE TETE — A 52-year-old volunteer firefighter had hoped his daring attempt to save a woman trapped inside her submerged vehicle in Grosse Tete Bayou on Friday morning would be successful.
He learned later that day that it wasn’t.
“I was really hoping she would make it,” Jimmy Angelloz said. “We did all we could do.”
His comments came after learning that 78-year-old Geneva Jenkins, of Rosedale, had died while being treated for injuries sustained when her vehicle crashed into the bayou’s chilly waters Friday morning.
Capt. Hosea Anderson, of the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, said an autopsy will be performed to try to determine what happened.
“Right now, we don’t know,” he said.
Anderson said authorities received a 911 call about 9:30 a.m. Friday from witnesses who reported seeing a red truck drive into Grosse Tete Bayou near Guaranty Bank and Trust in the 17000 block of La. 77.
Angelloz, who is a supervisor with Turner Construction, said he was doing laundry and performing a few minor repairs around his home when his pager went off, alerting him about the emergency at Grosse Tete Bayou.
“I thought, ‘Let me go see what I can do.’ That’s right up the road from my house,” Angelloz said. “When I pulled up in the bank parking lot, I could see people along the bayou bank waving. They told me it had been about 20 minutes since the truck went under.”
The 19-year firefighter veteran said his years of training kicked in immediately and he went into high gear to try to save whomever was in the truck.
He was told that one of the men standing along the bayou bank had attempted to jump in and rescue Jenkins already but stopped because the water was too cold.
“I told him I had to try to get in there,” Angelloz said.
So, with the help of another volunteer firefighter who showed up moments after he did, Angelloz had a rope tied around his waist, grabbed a hammer from one of the bystanders and dove into the bayou’s murky waters.
He couldn’t remember how long it took before they were able to smash a window and pull an unconscious Jenkins from the flooded truck.
But he said he had to come up for air several times during the attempt to rescue the woman.
“A couple of times, I heard some of the bystanders telling me to give up and get out of there; it had been too long,” Angelloz recalls. “I told them ‘I’m not giving up.’ I was just determined we could save her.”
Angelloz learned later from witnesses that Jenkins’ truck had torn through the bank’s parking lot at a high rate of speed before crashing into the bayou — which snakes its way behind Guaranty Bank between La. 77 and Sidney Road.
After they were able to pull her out the vehicle, Angelloz said he recognized Jenkins as a woman he saw all the time when he was performing routine fire hydrant inspections throughout the community.
“She lives about a mile up the road from where this happened,” he said. “Whenever I did my checks, I used to always thank her for keeping such a nice front yard.”
Investigators with the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office say they are trying to determine why the vehicle went out of control and plunged into the bayou.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.