OTTAWA -- Ottawa Fire Services sector chief Bill Bell says he is just happy he was in a position to help after rescuing a woman who was trapped in a sinking car.

Fire officials say they were contacted by Ottawa police at 12:19 a.m. Sunday on reports that a vehicle was in the Ottawa River near Thomas A. Dolan Parkway and Barlow Crescent in the community of Dunrobin, in Ottawa's rural west end.

As the car took on water, Ottawa Fire says police were able to maintain contact with the driver by phone and relay that information to the water rescue crews that were headed to the scene.

Bell was the first to arrive. He already had a plan, based on the info from police.

"We had a situation where we had a lady who was trapped in her car and couldn’t get out," Bell said. "As I was coming to the scene I received updates that the water was rising within the car and so that helped me to formulate a plan."

Bell said the car's headlights were still on when he got to the scene, shining under four or five feet of water. After donning a life jacket, he made his way into the river.

Submerged car Ottawa River
This photo from local resident Steve Hyde shows the submerged car still in the Ottawa River Sunday morning.

"I got to the beach and, basically, I kicked off my boots and put on my personal flotation device. I swam out probably, I guess it must have been about 60 metres out there, 150 feet or so," Bell said.

Bell smashed some of the car's windows with a hammer and was able to rescue the trapped driver, bringing her back to shore safely.

"I was able to breach the rear window and also the passenger window and eventually get her out through the driver's window. I swam her half way to the shore and, when we got halfway in, we could hit the ground. We walked in and that's where Ottawa Fire and Ottawa Police were waiting for us."

Bell said the driver was cold and shaken, but was otherwise in good condition as she was assessed by paramedics on the shore.

"All in all, it was a good story. I’m so happy that I was in a position privileged enough to help her out and she’s doing well."

How the car ended up in the river is still not known. 

Steve Hyde lives in the area and says this isn't the first time something like this has happened.

"This is the fourth or fifth time that I’ve seen a car in the river right here in this location," he said.

The intersection of Thomas A. Dolan Parkway and Barlow Crescent is at the bottom of a hill at the end of the parkway. Hyde said it can take you by surprise.

"You come across the top of the hill and then, if you’re sleeping, by the time you realize where you are, its too late."

Thomas A. Dolan Parkway hill
A hill on Thomas A. Dolan Parkway that leads right to the Ottawa River.  

Hyde believes more safety measures are needed.

"I've heard that they’re talking about a flashing light and I suppose that would be okay if you’re awake," Hyde said. "I really think that they need to have some speed bumps at the top of the hill."

On Twitter, West Carleton-March councillor Eli El-Chantiry thanked Bell for a job well done.

Accolades for Bell were posted to social media shortly after El-Chantiry identified him.