msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/15/2011 8:02:05 PM ET 2011-11-16T01:02:05

A truck driver loading milk came to the rescue of a man whose car plunged into a pond at a northwest Ohio dairy farm.

John Neumeier said he had just finished getting the milk into his tanker and sealing it up when he heard a loud noise. When he looked up, he saw a car driving into water and the light from a cell phone moving inside.

As the car began to sink, he knew the driver didn't have a lot of time. The water, about 8 feet deep, was already at the level of the driver's side window. "I decided right then and there that somebody had to go in the water," he said.

So he grabbed the large wrench he always carries with him in his truck, and dove in. After three tries, he finally managed to break the glass. "I had to hit that window with everything I had," he said.

As the driver, identified by authorities as Earl Kuhlman, struggled to keep his head above the water, Neumeier said he reached in and pulled him out by his feet. Kuhlman was taken to Putnam County Ambulatory Care in Glandorf. He was reported in stable condition Monday night.

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Neumeier said the accident happened when the driver missed a curve in the road and drove right into the pond, near the village of Dupont in Putnam County. "It was raining, nasty and dirty out," he said.

He said it was fortunate that he was in the right place at the right time on Monday — normally he doesn't get to the dairy until later at night, part of an 11-hour run that takes him into Tennessee. He's also grateful that he had the 22-inch wrench in his truck.

Neumeier, who has been driving a truck for close to 25 years, said he saw the tool six years ago on the side of the road while hauling produce in California. He stopped to pick it up, and has been carrying it with him ever since.

"I kind of feel partial to it," he said, adding that he asked the farm owner to look for the wrench when the car gets pulled out of the pond.

Neumeier, 58, said he was relieved to learn that nobody else was in the vehicle. So after Kuhlman was taken to the hospital, he changed into the spare set of clothes he keeps in his truck and started his 520-mile trek to Tennessee, arriving on time.

"I just try to be prepared," he said Tuesday by phone on his way home. 'You see a lot of things out on the road."

This story was originally reported by The Lima News.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com's Sylvia Wood contributed to this report.

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