FOX 8 Exclusive: Metairie family survives crash in canal - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

FOX 8 Exclusive: Metairie family survives crash in W. Napoleon Ave. canal

A photo of the car lying on its side in the canal A photo of the car lying on its side in the canal
Jefferson Parish Sheriff's detective Larry Hall Jefferson Parish Sheriff's detective Larry Hall
Metairie, La. -

Jefferson Parish Sheriff's detective Larry Hall was driving his marked unit Saturday, January 12, but he was off duty when he spotted a car flipped on its side in the canal, on W. Napoleon at Elise Ave. in Metairie.

"I noticed a vehicle was in the canal, possibly five to six feet from the embankment," explained Hall. He radioed for help, but didn't wait for anyone to get there -- he jumped right in.

"The engine was still running, the engine, the drive shaft, everything is facing me. I just grabbed what I could grab, and I climbed up on to the vehicle and lay on my stomach," said Hall.

Trapped inside was Michel Colwet and two young sons, 1-year-old Aleks and 5-year-old Caleb. "As soon as the impact happened, I reached down for the knife with the window punch on it because I knew had to break the window out somehow," said Colwet.

"They were very frantic, hysterical, crying. And her first words were, 'Please save my children. Please save my children,'" said Hall, who was determined but knew he had to be careful.

The current in the canal was moving the car, and it was taking on water. He says two other guys he didn't know also jumped in with a rope to try to hold the car in place.

Little Aleks was strapped in to his baby seat while Caleb, with his seat belt on, was suspended in the air.  "He was basically hanging like this [sideways] so when I went to unbuckle him, I was holding on tight but I had him in my arms, told him he had to be very careful because he could have slipped and gone through the other window," said Colwet.

"I reached down, and I grabbed the littlest one first, and I brought him up.  And I sat up and I scooted myself very carefully around.  There was a civilian in the water approximately up to his waist, waist deep, and I handed the child to him," said Hall.

Hall then reached in for Caleb, who remembers being scared.  "There was a lot of water, and I was by the baby's seat, and then I was the only one with my seat belt on until we got out," said Caleb.

By that time firefighters were on the scene, helping Hall rescue Colwet, and later the family puppy, Taz.

"He was just our guardian angel.  I don't know how else to explain it.  He showed up and he risked his life for us, and I'm just so grateful for that, " said Colwet.

Detective Hall is 60 years old.  He recently won a battle with cancer and had shoulder surgery, just a few weeks before jumping into the canal to save Colwet and her kids.

Hall's father, grandfather, even his great-grandfather were all police officers. Going beyond the call of duty is in his blood. He was going to do what he could to save the family. Having lost a son who was 13 years old, he couldn't bear to see something happen to this mother's children. Because of his actions, they'll forever be connected.

Colwet mentioned she had a "punch knife" in the car that she used to break the window. She said, surrounded by water in southeast Louisiana, she's always kept one in her car in case of an emergency. Besides breaking a window, it can also be used to cut a seat belt if you're trapped.

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