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College student rescued after using ‘Hey Siri’ to call 911 from a sinking car

Published Dec 12th, 2019 3:33PM EST
Hey Siri
Image: Zach Epstein for BGR

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An 18-year old college in Iowa student managed to use the “Hey Siri” feature Apple introduced in iOS 9 to call for help after his vehicle plunged into the Winnebago River.

In a story that was first brought to light by KIMT3 News, Gael Salcedo was driving to class when, in an instant, he hit an ice patch that sent his jeep careening into a river. Thinking fast, Salcedo immediately rolled down his windows, which is important to note given that it becomes nearly impossible to exit a sinking vehicle once the pressure of the surrounding water reaches a certain level.

That said, Salcedo’s car was filling up with water quickly as it continued to sink. Unable to locate his phone, Salcedo had the awareness to use the “Hey Siri” feature on his iPhone to call 911.

Firefighters from Mason City arrived quickly. They approached the water-logged Jeep from the passenger side, because the river current was pinning the driver’s side door shut. As that was happening, the water was rapidly rising.

“[I] basically explained to him that there’s no other way. You’re going to have to walk out. I’ll be right there with you holding on every step of the way,” said Lieutenant Craig Warner with the Mason City Fire Department.

With the help of emergency responders, Salcedo managed to exit the jeep and ultimately walk back to land. After a quick visit to a nearby hospital, Salcedo was released.

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first instance we’ve seen of Siri being used to save someone’s life. A few years ago, for example, three fisherman used the “Hey Siri” feature to call for help when they found themselves stranded in dangerous waters. There was a similar story back in 2017 involving a woman who used “Hey Siri” to call for help after her 1-year-old daughter stopped breathing.

“Hey Siri” is a useful feature that most people use for rather mundane tasks, but as evidenced above, it can literally be a life-saver when you can’t locate your iPhone in a precarious situation.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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