WALNUT CREEK — Divers, police dogs and a helicopter crew scoured a flood control channel Monday in search of a man swept downstream after the car he was in plunged into a rain-swollen creek, killing his grown son and injuring his wife.
Tim Hogan, 40, a Las Lomas High School graduate who lived in San Diego, died in the Sunday evening crash. His mother, 74-year-old Janet Hogan, of Walnut Creek, was plucked from the rushing waters in a harrowing helicopter rescue.
About 50 Contra Costa Sheriff's Office volunteers took part Monday in the search for his father, 79-year-old James Hogan, who was last seen floating downstream along Walnut Creek, the city's namesake waterway.
The crews searched both sides
Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said that James Hogan was a volunteer for the agency for 16 years, most recently as a coordinator of other volunteers in the Valley substation in Alamo.
"It hits close to home for the department," he said.
The crash occurred about 6:10 p.m. Sunday when Tim Hogan and his parents were traveling in a Honda Accord near Mt. Diablo Boulevard and San Miguel Drive. The driver lost control on the rain-slicked asphalt and the car went through a fence, overturning and landing on its
Emergency crews found Tim Hogan's body trapped in the car. His parents somehow got out of the vehicle but were carried downstream.
The bypass was built in the late 1980s so that water from San Ramon Creek could be diverted around the central part of the city into Walnut Creek, reducing the risk of floods that used to occur every few years.
At the time of Sunday's accident, the water would have been 2.34 feet deep and flowing at 6.4 feet per second, said Mark Boucher, a senior hydrologist with the Contra Costa County Public Works Department.
"If somebody fell into that channel with the water moving at above 5 mph, it would definitely knock you off your feet," he said. "There's nothing to grab onto, just concrete."
California Highway Patrol Officer Shaun Bouyea responded to the crash in a rescue helicopter and spotted someone, likely James Hogan, facedown in the water. But before he could retrieve him, his crew was diverted to Treat Boulevard and Cherry Lane, where Janet Hogan had been spotted bobbing up and down in the choppy current,about three miles from the crash site.
Bouyea said he lowered a device called a clinch collar to the woman, but she could not grab it because the current took her over a waterfall. He then signaled to Contra Costa Fire District rescue swimmer Dave Manzeck on the shore and lowered the collar to him.
Manzeck, 36, a firefighter of six years who works out of the Pittsburg station, said that as he was being lowered he saw Janet Hogan disappear underwater for 15 to 20 seconds.
As Manzeck neared the surface, he encountered a downdraft that blew him into the water. He was pulled under, where he bounced off a log repeatedly.
"It was the longest 10 seconds of my life," he said.
By chance, Janet Hogan's head struck his
Manzeck grabbed hold of Janet Hogan, and both were pulled from the water and lowered to paramedics waiting on shore. She was revived and was breathing when she was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek in critical condition.
Manzeck dislocated his right shoulder and tore ligaments in an arm during the rescue. He and Janet Hogan spent the night in the same hospital, three rooms apart.
"I got a good hug from her last night," he said. "She was doing real well. She called me an angel."
Lee, the sheriff's spokesman, said Janet Hogan was in stable condition Monday.
Manzeck said it was his first water rescue. Bouyea called it "the most dramatic rescue" of his career.
"This is where seconds count," he said. "She was about to die if somebody didn't get her."
Condolences flooded Tim Hogan's Facebook page as word spread Monday, many expressing disbelief about the death of the 1987 Las Lomas graduate. According to business records, Tim Hogan ran a legal courier and messenger service in San Diego.
"Tim was just a real special friend to a lot of us," said Gary Hamilton, who had known Tim Hogan since middle school.
Hamilton, who said Tim Hogan attended their 20-year high school reunion, remembered his friend as well-liked and an avid drummer.
"He had a great sense of humor," Hamilton said. "He could make you smile just being in his presence."
Staff writers Roman Gokhman, Rick Radin and Elisabeth Nardi contributed to this story. Contact Robert Salonga at 925-943-8013. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.