Alleged drunk driver abandons friend after driving into canal

Scene of crash

A car crashed into a canal near a Harlingen neighborhood just after 9:00 on Thursday.

One man is in the hospital and another behind bars.

Harlingen Police said the driver was giving his friend a ride home last night when he drove his SUV into a canal.

People living nearby said they were shocked when they saw the front end of a Toyota 4Runner underwater.

"We didn't hear anything, not even water splashing or anything. It was just sirens and a whole bunch of lights, said Julie Garcia, who lives right next to the canal.

She feared the worst when she suddenly heard sirens and saw lights.

Garcia told Action 4 News, "I just looked outside and immediately to make sure it wasn TMt these two [kids] over here because it TMs dangerous."

Those living along O Street in Harlingen said they could not believe what they witnessed.

"We saw the back of the Toyota 4Runner just the back part a little bit, but it was almost all submerged," said neighbor Betty Bartide.

Harlingen Police said that posed a problem for first responders.

"The canal water was about chest deep or high, and they had to jump in and rescue the man that was trapped inside the vehicle," said Harlingen Police spokesperson Sgt. David Osbourne.

Sgt. Osbourne said the driver took off running and left behind his passenger, who was critically injured.

"Officers had to stay in the water for approximately 20 minutes before he could get extricated out of the vehicle," Osbourne said.

Several witnesses identified Ivory Joe Rice as the driver. Sgt. Osborne said Rice TMs blood alcohol content was almost double the legal limit.

Even though Rice is accused of being intoxicated, residents are still shocked about the accident in their neighborhood.