Deputies Honored for Saving Woman Found in Submerged Car with Only ‘Her Nose and Mouth Above Water’

Deputies Carlos Ortiz and Wesley Birjkovff received Life Saving Awards on Wednesday after coming to Maria Ruch's rescue on Sept. 27

<p>Paulding County Sheriff

Paulding County Sheriff's Office

Deputies Carlos Ortiz and Wesley Birjkovff with Maria Ruch

Two Georgia deputies have been honored for saving a woman from drowning after her car veered into a pond.

Deputies Carlos Ortiz and Wesley Birjkovff were working on Sept. 27 when they learned of a vehicle that had gone off the road and into the pond near 2771 Buchanan Highway, the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release on Friday.

Ortiz and Birjkovff, who happened to be in the area, responded to the scene and found the car “nearly submerged” in the water.

They also found an elderly woman, later identified as Maria Ruch, stuck inside the car, according to the sheriff’s office.

The woman seemingly “only had her nose and mouth above water" and she appeared to be unable to exit the vehicle, per the release.

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<p>Paulding County Sheriff's Office</p> Maria Ruch's car after it entered the pond

Paulding County Sheriff's Office

Maria Ruch's car after it entered the pond

After the deputies failed to open the car’s doors, Ortiz used his baton to smash one of the windows. Both Ortiz and Birjkovff were then able to get the woman out of the car.

Ruch did not sustain any serious injuries in the accident, according to the PCSO.

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On Wednesday, Sheriff Gary Gulledge presented Ortiz and Birjkovff with Life Saving Awards for their heroic efforts. The deputies also posed for photos alongside Ruch.

“I am so proud of the fact that no matter what division our Deputies are assigned to, when they hear a call come out, they respond and take immediate action,” Gulledge said, per Friday’s news release.

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“Because of Deputy Ortiz and Deputy Birjkovff’s quick action, the life of Ms. Ruch was saved,” he added.  "We are all eternally grateful for their quick action and selfless response.”

It is unclear how Ruch's car entered the water.

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