Two people were rescued by Biddeford firefighters Thursday after their sport utility vehicle went off the South Street bridge and crashed into the ice-covered pond below.

Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Duross said the SUV left the road shortly before noon, went down an embankment and plunged into Swan Pond.

A man and a woman got out of the partially submerged vehicle, but were unable to climb up the steep embankment. The water is about 4 or 5 feet deep at the point where the SUV landed.

Two Biddeford firefighters put on survival suits and waded into the water, where they attached ropes that enabled them to move the two people safely to shore. Several firefighters stood on the bridge and pulled the victims up the embankment.

Duross said the two did not appear to have been seriously injured, but may have had hypothermia. “They were in the water for 20 maybe 30 minutes,” he said.

They were taken to Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford, where they were treated and released.

Deputy Police Chief JoAnne Fisk identified the driver as Karen Merrill, 43, of Waterboro. Fisk said Merrill was driving a 2003 Jeep Liberty. Fisk was unable to provide the identity of the man who was riding in the SUV.

Duross said the accident was discovered by a Biddeford Public Works Department employee, who notified rescue workers.

“Fortunately, the vehicle landed upright or it could have been a lot worse,” Duross said.

He described road conditions at the time, around 11:56 a.m., as extremely icy and slippery, factors he said likely caused the crash.

The accident, though unfortunate, was timely. Duross said firefighters have been training for ice rescues for several weeks.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]