"My gut reaction was when I saw the SUV hit the water was, 'Go save them,' Kris Schuddekoph said

By Alex Heigl
Updated September 15, 2015 02:15 PM

“I heard the kids screaming and crying,” Keith Rubio, a 42-year-old homeless bricklayer living in Palm Beach’s John Prince Park, said.

He’s talking about Sunday night, when an SUV carrying a family plunged into the canal near the park where Rubio and a number of other homeless people live.

“I heard the tires squeal. I heard a loud bang. Maybe they popped a tire. The SUV went off the pavement. It went through the guardrail. It rolled into the canal,” John Garrett, 43, a heavy equipment operator from Atlanta, homeless for three months, told The Palm Beach Post.

Rubio and Garrett slid down the 10-foot embankment and waded into the canal’s waist-deep water when they heard the sounds of the accident.

“We sunk to our knees in the silt bottom,” Rubio said, and though the pair tried to break the windows to get at the couple and the three children inside the SUV, they couldn’t. The mother clambered into the back seat and handed the children – two boys and a girl – out the partially open rear passenger window to Rubio and Garrett, who passed them to a third homeless man, Kris Schuddekoph, waiting on the bank. The family, whose identities have not been released, were tended to by rescue personnel.

Schuddekoph, 50, has been living in John Prince Park for around three years. “My gut reaction was when I saw the SUV hit the water was, ‘Go save them,’ ” he said.