By NBC Chicago
A Lake Bluff, Ill., family has their local deputy coroner to thank for saving their lives Monday.
Danny Le and his family were inside one of many vehicles taken by surprise by flash flooding. Their car became submerged in the fast-rising waters underneath a bridge.
"I can't even see clear, you know, and I just crashed into the water," Le said. "Inside, the water had not coming in the car yet. Outside, the water got almost half up the car. That's why I cant get out."
Le's wife, sister-in-law, mother-in-law and 4-year-old son were all inside the Toyota sedan.
Lake County Deputy Coroner Jason Patt was driving north when he saw the family in trouble.
"The child was screaming in fear," Patt said. "You could see the fear in their faces, that they were surrounded. You're looking around and all you see is water."
Patt implored the family to get out the car, but they resisted.
"He said to get out of the car, because he was scared that the water would go up and we'd all die in the car," Le said.
One by one, Patt plucked all five occupants out of the vehicle and took them to his heated truck.
"I'm just a citizen and a law enforcement officer doing what I'm paid to do," Patt said.
But Patt, who happens to be running for Lake County Sheriff, may have won himself a few votes with his heroics.
There was a family in trouble. I acted on instinct. Politics was the last thing on my mind," Patt said.
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First published May 15 2014, 9:55 AM