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Family Rescued From Sinking Car In Oakland Estuary By Passersby

06/18/2013 06:11 pm ET

Sometimes, it's all about being in the right place at the right time.

This was the case for one family rescued from a sinking car by several heroic individuals who happened to be driving by the Oakland Estuary on Sunday afternoon. While the circumstances of how the family of four ended up in the channel are still murky, four passersby are credited with pulling them from the partially submerged vehicle.

"It wasn't whether I was going to get in the water -- it was how fast I could swim to them," Tracey McCormick told the New York Daily News, recalling how she treaded water while figuring out a way to free the parents and two children.

The car doors would not open, and McCormick had no way to break the windows.

"All these bad things [were] going through my head," she continued.

A paramedic also stopped to help and offered the use of a knife designed to break glass. After struggling to break through the window, McCormick handed the tool off to Erik Schorken, another rescuer who had also dived into the water, ABC News reports.

"I hit the back window with the point, shattered the glass, and by that time water was just flooding in. We start[ed] pulling kids out and parents out, and they couldn't swim so we had to help them ashore," Schorken later told KGO-TV.

Meanwhile, a fourth rescuer, Andy Goodwin, waited near the shore to help the family onto dry land.

Johnna Watson, a spokeswoman from the Oakland Police Department, told ABC News that timing is crucial in this type of situation, adding that the first responders' actions "made the difference between life and death."

Police plan to investigate the cause of the accident.

In a similar incident last year at the Oakland Estuary, passersby managed to capture a video as several good Samaritans pulled a woman from a sinking car.

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