Mountain Home, Arkansas — MOUNTAIN HOME, ARKANSAS - Lonnie Crim, a Mountain Home native and U.S. Army veteran, was at Pigeon Creek Park along with his wife Pamela Crim to fly a drone he just purchased.
Little did Crim know his training for a seven-year career as a combat engineer with the Army would be put to the test in the blazing heat of Monday morning.
Crim, his wife Pamela and their large Labrador retriever "Tank" had just moved to a new spot at the park to fly Crim's recently purchased drone.
"We were about to fly it further in the park, but there were swimmers there," said Crim. "So we came here, just on the other side of the pond."
Crim had the drone in the air with his wife and dog looking on when a woman fell asleep behind the wheel of a Honda Pilot and crashed into the water. She had been looking for a shady spot in the park so she and her 18-month-old daughter could take a nap.
The woman said she awoke when the SUV crashed into the pond after running off the north side of the causeway and bowling over a pair of large wooden posts. The SUV miraculously stayed upright as it plowed down the rocky slope into the shallow pond.
Pamela, Crim and Tank ran to the scene after watching the crash. As Pamela ran, she could hear the frantic mother calling for help.
Crim pulled out his wallet and phone, ripped off his glasses and raced down the steep slope to the water.
"I just knew she needed help," said Crim. Hearing her scream like that really got me moving."
The woman, who declined to give her name, unrolled her window as the SUV began sinking. She then put a lifejacket on her daughter. Crim swam to them, grabbed the little girl and swam her to shore.
The veteran then went back and got the woman. Next, Crim gently picked up the girl.
"The toughest part of the whole thing was getting back up to the road," said the Vet. "The soil was just so loose it was crumbling and rolling down the hill. The loose rocks didn't help either."
As her husband raced to help mother and daughter, Pamela called 911 to report the accident that occurred shortly after 9 a.m. Monday morning.
That call sent help rushing from multiple agencies. Somehow, the call came across as a car going off the Pigeon Creek Bridge. That sent an Arkansas State Police trooper and deputies from the Baxter County Sheriff's Office looking near the bridge.
An ambulance crew from Baxter Regional Medical Center was first on the scene of the accident, followed quickly by personnel from a half-dozen other agencies, including a rescue boat from the Gamaliel Volunteer Fire Department.
Mother and daughter were ushered into the ambulance to be checked out by medical personnel. Once it was verified they were shaken by the incident but unharmed, they exited the ambulance.
While mother and daughter awaited the arrival of relatives, they stayed near Crim and his wife who enjoyed getting to know the toddler and her mother.
Tow trucks arrived and the mother watched as her Honda slowly emerged from the pond. Her belongings spilled through the open window in a rush of water only to scatter across the surface of the pond.
As Pamela stood with the woman watching, she spoke to the mother.
"God put everyone where they were today," Pamela said to the woman. "Perhaps this is an opportunity for you to start fresh."
The mother thought for a while and later replied.
"I didn't believe in God before today," the mother said. "But maybe someone's trying to tell me something. Maybe I need to believe."