Man who jumped into Lake Pontchartrain to save driver tells his - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Man who jumped into Lake Pontchartrain to save driver tells his story

"I was scheduled to go to work at 3:00. Unfortunately, I was just a few minutes late," said ACME Oyster House manager Alvin Pike. That's how his story begins.

Pike was driving southbound on the Causeway Bridge on May 31, just minutes away from the start of his shift in the Quarter. He was behind a truck in the left lane and he was in the right lane. He wouldn't be on time.

"He suddenly turned into the left guard rail overcorrected and went straight to the right side. The truck popped up in the air and rolled over on the rail. The next thing I saw was a big splash," Pike said.

He watched 26-year-old Christian Pate's GMC truck travel out of his control. Causeway Police photos show the bizarre path marked in red that took Pate straight into the lake.

"When he hit, it was at such a great speed [that] the front of the truck went up and debris flew everywhere," said Pike.

Pike says he got out of his vehicle signaled for traffic to stop. He ran to the side of the roadway began taking off his clothes.

"I took my shoes, my pants and my shirt off and started to jump in the water and that's when I saw the occupant of the vehicle who was directly under the rail of the bridge."

He swam over to the victim and said, "Is anybody else in the vehicle? He said no. I said ‘does your neck hurt or your back hurt?'"

Pate happened to have life vests in his truck that he removed from a boat being repaired. Photographer Dave Grunfeld with NOLA.com the Times Picayoune happened to be on the bridge and documented the rescue.

See the rescue in photos

Pike says the man who stopped behind him in a van had a rope.

"A rope drops down that I tied around his torso and under his arms and tied a knot to take the slack out and keep him afloat. I had a sense he was going into shock."

Seconds later somebody threw down another life vest for Pike.

About 12 people at the top of the bridge banded together to pull the pair up with the rope.

"They had him lying on top of the Causeway. A lady had a blanket to put on him," said Pike. "As I was going up, I realized I'm in my underwear and there are some ladies up there. I took my life vest and covered myself up."

No emergency vehicles had arrived yet. Only the team of good Samaritans led by 45-year-old Pike who said he never considered not jumping in.

He had a good excuse for being late for work, but amazingly still showed up at ACME later that day.

"It was a bunch of angels to tell you the truth," he said. "It was so amazing how everybody worked together in a seemingly coordinated effort as if it had been rehearsed."

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