NewsPinellas County


91-year-old who drove into Clearwater pond thankful for rescuers, but says 'thank you' not enough

Posted at 4:53 PM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 19:38:50-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Harry Hetner laughs as he says he's the healthiest man in Pinellas County, just a day after being released from the hospital after he accidentally drove his car into a Clearwater pond.

Related: Clearwater Fire Medics save 91-year-old man from sinking car after crashing intopond

The 91-year-old was driving near his home when he accelerated his car, crashing into the pond. 

Witnesses captured the car he was in sinking in the water. 

"He just went to the spot with the last air pocket. He was still breathing. He was just hoping somebody could get to him," said Paul Sudduth, a fire medic with Clearwater Fire and Rescue.

On Tuesday, Hetner spoke to ABC Action News about how thankful he is for those first responders but says a 'thank you' is enough. 

"All I can say is two words," he said. "And, it's so inadequate."

Hetner went on to explain that the words "thank you" are what he says to people passing the salt at the dinner table, "For Heaven's sake, and I have to use the same words to them?"

Hetner said he hopes to meet with the first responders in person. 

The World War II veteran tells us he was drafted right out of high school, but never saw the images of war firsthand. 

"I missed my chance to be a hero," he said.

Hetner said this was the first life and death situation he's been and it proves to him, he could have fought in the war. 

"I've always wondered how I would have performed."

Hetner said he knew to stay alive he had to climb into the back of the car, and use the small air pocket until someone came. 

"I keep my wits about me," he said. "And, I knew what I was doing."