A'dam man acted on auto-pilot when rescuing tourists from canal
Amsterdam resident Henk Cornelissen (29) did not think for a second when he saw a van with Polish tourists crash into the Prinsengracht on Saturday. He acted on autopilot and jumped into the cold water to help the tourists get out of the vehicle and back on dry land, he said to NH Nieuws.
Cornelissen and his girlfriend were sitting on a terrace when the van ended up in the canal. "I ran over to it and didn't have to think. I took off my coat and jumped into the water," he said. "I saw so many people in that little bus, which was sinking so fast." The tourists were trying to break a window to get out but couldn't manage it. "The screaming went through my marrow."
Two women were trying to open the front door but couldn't due to the water pressure. "I had to put my feet on the side of the car and open the door with both hands and full force," Cornelissen said. When he got the door open, the bus sank faster. It was crucial to get everyone out quickly. "Luckily, everyone was able to climb over the seats and escape."
Two of the tourists couldn't swim. "I kept them with me. A tour boat parked very skilfully parallel to the van, so they could safely get onto the boat. They immediately gave them blankets to warm up."
When emergency services arrived, Cornelissen had already rescued the tourists from the van and gotten them onto tour boats. According to him, everyone was still buzzing with adrenaline when help came. "I wasn't even cold. The ambulance arrived, and we got heat blankets and checked for hypothermia. Everyone was very tense. It was only when fire brigade divers told us that no one was left behind in the car that the emotions came."