Fla. Man in Critical Condition After Tropical Storm Eta Floodwaters Lead to Canal Crash

Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in Florida on Sunday night after Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in several counties

florida man drives into canal
Man drives into canal. Photo: Lauderhill Fire Rescue/ twitter

A Florida man who was briefly submerged in his vehicle amid torrential rains brought on by Tropical Storm Eta was hospitalized in critical condition on Sunday, authorities said.

The man, who is in his 30s, was driving in Lauderhill around 7 p.m. when he turned into an apartment complex parking lot and his vehicle became submerged, Jerry Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Lauderhill Fire Rescue, tells PEOPLE.

A canal that runs behind the complex had burst due to rains from Eta, flooding the parking lot.

Gonzalez says that the man’s car was fully submerged when rescue crews arrived, but they were able to punch out his vehicle’s windows to reach him and pull him to safety.

The man was not breathing when he was pulled from the car, and was transported in critical condition to Broward General Hospital, where his condition remains unknown.

He adds that initial, conflicting witness reports stated that there was a second victim in the car, but that the area was extensively searched and no one else was found.

Gonzalez says the incident was just one of dozens that were called in on Sunday due to Tropical Storm Eta, though it was the only one that involved someone who had to be transported to the hospital.

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“There were many incidents called in,” he says. “I would say above 100 incidents, probably, called in with vehicles trapped in high waters.”

In posts on social media, Lauderhill Fire Rescue encouraged residents to stay indoors.

The storm touched down in the Florida Keys on Sunday night after wreaking havoc on Central America, where its path of destruction left more than 150 people dead, Reuters reported.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm in Broward, Collier, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties.

The National Hurricane Center said that Eta is still bringing gusty winds and heavy rains over parts of south Florida and the Florida Keys, and that it’s expected to move gradually into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico through Wednesday.

There’s also a chance Eta will strengthen into a hurricane once more as it heads toward Florida’s Gulf Coast, The New York Times reported.

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