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N.J. Woman Rescued After Driving Car Into Hackensack River

Elizabeth Moore cars ends up in the Hackensack River. (credit: CBS 2)

Elizabeth Moore cars ends up in the Hackensack River. (credit: CBS 2)

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A trip to the car wash nearly ended tragically for an elderly woman.

She went to get her car cleaned Sunday and instead it got soaked in the Hackensack River. The entire incident was caught on tape.

Elizabeth Moore is now in good health and good spirits after an ill-fated trip to the car wash.

“My back hurts — that’s about it,” Moore, of River Edge, told CBS 2’s Elise Finch on Monday.

The 82-year-old took her Ford Escort to a Hackensack car wash like she had done many times before, but during her latest visit she failed to turn left toward the exit after leaving the wash area. Surveillance video showed that instead she went straight, narrowly avoiding two SUVs before plunging directly into the murky water of the Hackensack River.

“It just kept rolling forward,” Moore said. “I’m talking to the car saying ‘Betsy turn around come on get back.'”

“We’ve had people pull out of the car wash and drive into the fence but we’ve never had anybody even go near the water,” said Michael Lokitz, an employee at the Spotless Auto Laundry.

The car simply rolled through a dirt patch, down the rocks and into the water. The driver said she couldn’t turn or stop the vehicle.

“I’m trying to put it in park, reverse … it just wouldn’t go,” Moore said. “The wheel was frozen and I tried to put it in reverse; it wouldn’t go in reverse.”

Two employees and fellow customer Jay Orsino raced into the chest high water to help Moore out.

“I jumped in and the window was open which was really lucky,” Orsino said.

Someone threw them a rope and they were able to get Moore out of the car seconds before it went under.

Moore said the incident doesn’t discourage her from continuing to drive. She said her son doesn’t want her to drive anymore.

Moore said she didn’t feel like it was her time to go, so she’s thankful for the men who literally jumped in to save her life.

Hackensack Police said because it was a single-car accident with no injuries, no charges will be filed. But because of the circumstances, the driver may be required to re-qualify for a driver’s license.

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