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Bug helped run truck into river

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POSTED: December 20, 2007 5:02 a.m.
All Gordon Clark wanted to do was capture the scenic Georgia coastline in photographs from his pickup while parked near a boat ramp in South Newport.
Unfortunately, Clark and his dog found themselves as part of the scenery when a flying insect caused the man to drive his truck into the river Wednesday afternoon.
According to Riceboro Volunteer Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Earl McGinley, Clark had to be rescued from the swift currents.
McGinley said Clark told him during he had been traveling through Liberty County from his home in Blairsville when he stopped at the foot of the boat ramp in the South Newport area near I- 95, exit 67.
“He said he stopped to take pictures of the river and marsh area and, as he was shooting photos, an unidentified flying insect startled Clark. He told me he began swatting at the bug, and his foot slipped off the brake pedal and (the truck) began to roll onto the boat ramp into the river.”
Apparently, according to McGinley, Clark had not put his automatic Ford F-350 in park.
McGinley said once the vehicle hit the water, Clark and his pit bull were plunged into the frigid waters and escaped through open windows.
“Clark attempted to swim to shore, but was pulled out into the water by the strong currents until he finally clung onto a piling. His dog made it back to shore though,”  McGinley said.
As Clark clung to the piling — a pole which is used to support a dock or bridge — a worker with Metro Services, who was doing work on the lights on I-95 with three other crew members, saw what happened.
McGinley said the men immediately went to help Clark. Using a 30-foot tow strap, they were able to hoist Clark to the bank of South Newport bridge.
“His dog never left his master,” McGinley said. “He kept looking at the men for help as he kept a watchful eye on Clark.”
When they finally got Clark out of the water, he was near hypothermia state, McGinley said.
He noted the dog was real happy, pouncing on rescue workers and offering an occasional lick.
Clark was treated by a crew from Liberty Regional Medical Center, but refused to be transported to a hospital.
“All he wanted to do was get out of his wet clothes and dry off,” McGinley said.
He said Clark did complain about his feet being sore from pushing on the pilling.
Clark and his dog were released to deputies from McIntosh County who were going to provide aid.
The truck sank to the bottom of the waterway and was expected to be recovered when the tide is low, according to McGinley.
 

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