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FedEx Blog

Driver Relives Dramatic Underwater Rescue

April 27, 2017

As he approached a stop sign on his route, James Carter nudged the turn signal in his truck to indicate a right turn. Buckets of rain pelted his windshield on what was a stormy Friday outside of Tulsa, Okla.  James looked left for traffic. At that exact moment, he saw a car hydroplane and flip into a creek that had flooded a few hundred yards down the road.

James, an employee of NATim Transport, Inc., a business contracted to provide pick-up and delivery services on behalf of FedEx Ground, had a quick decision to make. He could turn right and continue with his deliveries – the bad weather had already put him a little behind schedule – or, he could turn left and make sure whoever was in the vehicle that veered off the road was safe.

Hear from James himself to find out what happened next.

FedEx: What was going through your mind as you witnessed the wreck?

James: Something told me I needed to go check on them to make sure they were alright. I turned left and flipped on my hazard lights.

Video footage courtesy of Kara Copes

FedEx: What was the situation when you got up to the scene of the accident?

James: There were a bunch of car parts in the road that had been torn off by the curb when she hit it. I couldn’t see the car from the street because it had fallen down about 10-feet into the creek. All I saw was the big splash and steam coming from the car from hitting the water. I knew it probably wasn’t a good situation. There were four or five people standing on top of the bridge. I asked them who the driver was and if they were OK. All I remember hearing was that no one had come out of the car yet. There was no time to think. I pulled my scanner off my belt and jumped in the creek. I had my wallet and all my keys and tags in my pockets. I knew the car was filling up with water and there were only a couple minutes of oxygen in the car. We didn’t know who was in the car or if they were by themselves. We didn’t know it was a woman at that point. We just knew someone was in there.

FedEx: What’s going through your mind when you got into the water?

James: I didn’t think. I just did. Myself and two other guys started doing whatever we could. First we tried to rip the door handles off, but they were all locked. Then I said let’s get the car flipped over. Every time we’d lift it, the current would carry it. We knew that wasn’t going to work. At that point I grabbed the back wheel and started kicking the glass trying to bust it out and get in through the window. As I pushed it in, somehow the woman in the car was able to get out through the driver’s side. Once I saw her, I jumped on top of the car, and we started asking her if she was alone or if there was anyone else trapped inside. She was in shock. After a minute or two, she told us she was by herself. I knew we had to get her out of the cold water as soon as we could. Me and the two other guys got her up on top of the car and waited on EMS. They got a ladder to us, and we helped her get off the car and out of the creek to safety.

FedEx: What happened next?

James: I took a deep breath and climbed back out. It looked like the woman was safe and the EMS team had everything under control at that point. I said ‘You guys have a good day,’ and back to work I went.

FedEx: You kept driving after that dramatic rescue?

James: Oh yeah. I had more stops to hit. My boss sent me a backup to help with some of my deliveries. I was able to get back to my house and grab a dry shirt. I made all my pickups. It was a crazy day with all the storms.

FedEx: How do you keep calm in a situation like this?

James: Believe it or not, it is not the first time I had done this. I’m a certified diver. I’ve been in that situation before. During the floods we had a couple of years ago, I had to save my dog. I live on some acreage in Coweta, Okla. We were crossing a creek, and he had jumped in a really bad area. He couldn’t swim with the current, and I jumped in and grabbed him. I don’t have a fear of the water. I’ve done training underwater at 80-feet deep. You can’t panic. If you panic, you get into trouble. You have to problem solve and get yourself to safety. It was no different with this recent incident.

James Carter Quote

FedEx: What has it been like for you in the aftermath of this rescue?

James: I haven’t watched any of the videos. I prefer being called a good samaritan rather than a hero. There are heroes all over the place risking their lives on a daily basis wearing a uniform or overseas fighting for our freedom. I’m a guy that happened to be in the right place at the right time.


    Luc Olivier Jr says:

    You have made me so proud of you today: The Good Samaritan; the guy in the right place at the right time. God’s incremental blessings to you and your family.

    Kendall says:

    Great Comment! I totally agree.

    Serina says:

    Bless you! So good to hear good stories now a days .

    Mary says:

    Blessings Brother, You make us proud. As a retired FedEx employee KUDOS

    Michelle Grantom says:

    God bless you, Sir. I am grateful that you and the others were at the right place, at the right time, for this woman.

    Ilsa Mendez says:

    Man, way to go again Fed Ex. Yall hire bad ass employees!!!

    Ted Shanley says:

    The Ultimate Purple Promise!

    Sheryldrowe says:

    Jesus put you in that place just so you could save the lady. You are one of Jesus Angels sent to the right place. Hugs

    Anonymous says:

    PURPLE PROMISE, well done!!! What AMAZING Story!!
    She may have a FAMILY that you are a BLESSING to THEM.

    annemarie says:

    James Carter awesome job!!

    Pamela Bernbaum says:

    People like James just amaze me! Most people run AWAY from scenes like this…but he got right in the water and helped. Of course, he had the training in his background, but still, how admirable and wonderful! I always think “what if that was my loved one”…It’s nice to know people like him are around!

    Henry Castagnaro says:

    Don’t sell yourself short! You are the very definition of a HERO! A HERO is someone who is willing to put their own safety at risk to help others in a life and death situation. True, military put their lives at risk fighting for our freedoms at home and abroad. Many considered them to be HEROS, which they are. However, you’re a HERO as well, just a different type!

    Laurie Hylton says:

    Amen to that! You are a hero, you put your life in danger to ensure someone else would not lose theirs. That my friend is a hero. May God continue to bless you for your bravery.

    Claire Curtis says:

    You never know what hides inside of you until a crisis hits. Bravo to James for his humanity and kindness. And his dedication to the FedEx brand. He only said he changed his shirt…must have been uncomfortable in wet shorts and shoes!

    Eddie collins says:

    Great job man,we truly need more people like you working at fedex that’s loving caring and put a life first and not his job !your a superman in my book and I truly hope we can hear from other fedex people that will step up and shine the way you did making this company as proud as we see you now and as I can say again job very well done !

    Nadine Myles says:

    RESUE woman and still made his deliveries and pick ups. Delivering the Purple Promise all the way. GREAT JOB!

    Eddie Everling says:

    Working for FedEx has been wonderful and it’s because we’re surrounded by people like James. Thank you for living out the purple promise. May God bless you and your family!

    Sarah Wilson says:

    You are what makes America great! So very well done and thank you!

    Mary Woods says:

    James you are a hero! Never underestimate the power of putting others first. You put yourself at risk to save another.
    What a Blessing you are !!

    kevin dominguez says:

    VERY proud to be part of the Fedex community great job!

    Pat Brown says:

    My husband and I saw the video of this rescue on a local news station while traveling. We both work for FedEx Ground and immediately said to each other – it’s a Ground driver! We’ll know his name eventually! Thank you for your quick thinking and courage. You were in the right place at the right time, but you also chose to put yourself in that right place and time. Not everyone would do that.

    Vanessa Carire says:

    Reading this brought me tears. You SAVED her life! I’m sure that women will never be the same and will certainly never forget you. Thank you 🙂

    Rosemarie Crooks Rhoden says:

    So proud of James. He risked his life to save the life of someone else. Such a selfless act. Kudos!! so good to know good people are still around in this cruel world.

    Charlotte Wilson says:

    Listening to that “voice” and not second guessing was essential in the positive outcome in this incident! Not by chance, not by coincidence! Awesome and inspiring!

    Laurie L. Lockard says:

    That was outstanding. You may have been a good Samaritan, but your a hero also. I’m also amazed that you immediately went back to work. I would think you’d need a minute to decompress after helping to save someone’s life.

    val paulson says:

    What a wonderful story. I am sure the woman will be forever thankful you were in the right place at the right time !! You make us proud !!!!

    Matt Farmer says:

    God put you in that place in that moment and my friend whether you like to hear it or not YOU ARE A TRUE HERO you could have just drove off. Gods Speed

    Tammy Roberts says:

    You are an angel. May God bless you and your family.

    Jaime Martinez says:

    James you are one of many God Angels surrounding us every day, that means is all on your heart, your community must proud of you.

    Sabrina Suite says:

    What a humble statement. Karma will reward you many times over…

    KJ says:

    FedEx is a great place to work and I’m happy to be apart of this great company. God bless you and the lady you helped..

    FedEx freight division

    nick adams says:

    way to go bro. your selfless act was amazing. keep up the good work. god will bless you and your family.

    Sematha Mitchell says:

    I love knowing we have people who wont just be a bystander. James jumped into action when others just stood there. They may have had good reason(can’t swim, shock etc) but he jump into action. Great Job! Wished I knew more people like this personally.

    Aliscia Calliari says:

    FedEx Proud!

    Brandon Lake says:

    Way to go James!

    Rhoda Hunt says:

    We need more people like you, just do what it takes! Great job!!

    William Lafferty says:

    Nice work James!

    Kellie says:

    BRAVO ZULU!!! OUTSTANDING job way to delivery! God Bless you and your!

    LISA LANDRUM says:


    Allen Harrison says:

    Incredible rescue. Thank you for looking out for others and putting them above yourself. And yes you are a hero, James. You were definitely in the right place at the right time.
    God Bless you.

    Awadhesh Kumar says:

    Applying right thinking and timing makes humans great.

    WELL DONE………….

    Alfred Green says:

    James, it people like you that make our world a better place….thank God for you to be in the right place at the right time for this lady……God bless.

    Carol says:

    Thank goodness for people like this! Awesome job!

    Patricia Mathurin says:

    Wow!! You make all FedEx employees very proud keep up the good work.

    Peggy McDonald says:

    Awesome job!!!!!!

    Kathy Hannah says:

    James, thanks for your courage to make a difference. Your steps were ordered~

    Cheryl Williams says:

    Well done. My hat’s off to you. You make us all feel like there is still good in the world.

    Tina says:

    My eyes teared up as I read your humble statement on thinking yourself as a good samaritan vs the heros in uniforms risking their lives daily. Proud to work for FedEx in moments like these; thanks for sharing!

    mike says:

    good stuff bro

    Roberto Natividad says:

    We all have decisions to make everyday. Most of us are not super-heros. But on this day you and the people there, helping out, are super-heros. GOD is with all of you. Even when it was not part of your job, you shined.

    Tim says:

    Great job James! Your selflessness is an inspiration to us at FedEx. You and the independent contractors all across the country are why FedEx Ground works. NATim Transport, Inc is a great partner with FedEx Ground and you represent them well! God Bless you and your family, and protect you and all the drivers like you who go above and beyond.

    Hamilton NYC says:

    James, you have no idea how proud you make me feel. Your sense of humanity exceeds all our expectations. People like you remind us how we all can be a better country, one kind act of humanity at the time. Thanks

    Rose says:

    She was so lucky you were there. You are her hero. Great story

    Marium Khan says:

    Great Job!

    Pamela Rumble says:

    You are a true hero! Great story reminding us of the good in humanity!
    God Bless you!

    Michelle says:

    We are proud of you at FedEx. I am glad you were available to hear the
    voice that told you to go back. Be blessed.

    Laudemir Camillo says:

    Parabéns James.

    Liz says:

    WOW–you are a hero in every sense of the word. Thank God you were there. Bravo Zulu!!!

    wood holman says:

    Wonderful job James. A true hero wearing a FedEx uniform!

    Chris Barber says:

    love this! BRAVO sir!

    Margo Stover says:

    You are a brave and awesome man.

    lindiwe simelane-baloyi says:

    what a teacher you are James you have teach us a lesson where know one would have done, thank you very much, you are a real HERO

    Norene Beaver says:

    “Good Samaritan” – nice job! Thank you for turning left!!!!! Way to deliver on the Purple Promise all the Way!!! Bravo Zulu!

    Denine Mersier-Davis says:

    May God bless you abundantly.

    Theresa Dybowski says:


    How touching. Your rewards will be many! So many disasters where people look the other way!

    JANET MCORT says:

    Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. Courage is what counts.” –Sir Winston Churchill

    David Zartman says:

    You inspired me today! I loved to here your willingness to have concern for others! God Bless you, for you have truly been a Good Samaritan!

    Vicki A. Jackson Thompson says:

    I salute you on your bravery and the wisdom to choose to save someone’s life and then get back to delivering the purple promise. BZ!

    Cindy Slavinsky says:

    God did have you in ‘the right place at the right time’, being a certified diver and having the calm to execute this rescue is phenomenal. So proud of you!

    Beth Cumbie says:

    CONGRATULATIONS Ken! You were an inspiration and good friend in high school and again, now. So happy for your success!

    Erica D. Tiberio says:

    An Angel on Earth!

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