SUMTER, SC (WACH) - Sumter Police Officer Quentin Eley, while on routine patrol Friday night, observed a man inside a vehicle that was floating several yards out in Second Millpond, in the southwest area of town.
Acting on instinct and training, Eley, a law enforcement officer of just 4 months, quickly removed his duty belt, body armor and boots and dove into the frigid water to save the trapped passenger before the vehicle completely submerged.
Witnesses stated the driver of the 2000 Mazda Protege, 38 year old I. Marcel Cimpean was observed moments before the crash, driving at a high rate of speed on Pinewood Road.
Officers at the scene detected an odor of alcohol about Cimpean who registered a .19 blood alcohol concentration, more than twice the legal limit in South Carolina. After evaluation at Tuomey Medical Center, Cimpean was charged with Driving Under the Influence and transported to Sumter Lee Regional Detention Center where he is currently awaiting a bond hearing.
Officer Eley was evaluated at a local medical facility and later released.
Sumter Police Chief Russell F. Roark, III credits Eley??s quick thinking and training with saving Cimpean??s life. "As officers, we don??t train specifically for this type situation. It??s a combination of instinct, training, and a willingness to act without hesitation to help others. Officer Eley displayed all these traits last night, saving Mr. Cimpean and possibly others who could have been injured or killed because Mr. Cimpean chose to drink and drive," said Roark.