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25-year-old driver has died after SUV plunged into Menomonee River from 27th Street Viaduct

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Milwaukee firefighters risked their lives on a bitterly cold night to save a 25-year-old driver. This, after an SUV plunged into the icy Menomonee River from the 27th Street Viaduct Wednesday, February 18th. Now, family members tell FOX6 News that driver, identified as 25-year-old Jessenia Dhanjal, has passed away.

It was a lot for even the rescue crew to take in at the scene Wednesday night.

“You see the car. You see where she went off and you’re thinking ‘it’s a recovery. They have to be deceased,'” said Firefighter/Rescuer, Dennis Gross.

What they saw was an SUV half submerged in the icy Menomonee River after falling more than 60 feet off the 27th Street viaduct. When Gross and the rest of the Dive Rescue Team arrived, they were told one victim, a 19-year-old woman, was already up and walking around.

“Our thought is that she actually impacted because she was wet on our arrival. So that tells me she was in the auto, It was submerged and she was able to swim out of an open window or a broken window,” said Battalion Chief, David Votsis.

Dhanjal was still inside. One rescuer broke the sunroof to try to reach her. A second opened one of the doors.

“It wasn’t easy because she was pretty far back. We had to dig inside there and reach and feel for her,” said Gross.

As they pulled her out the door, Dennis Gross was waiting with what’s called a “sled.” Dhanjal wasn’t breathing, but rescuers resuscitated her.

She was taken to the hospital, where she passed away on Thursday.

Initial reports stated that the reason the SUV fell off the bridge was because of drag racing. But as of Thursday, February 19th, Milwaukee police say that is NOT confirmed and they are investigating.

FOX6 News spoke to family members of the driver and they say she was not street racing.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in the victim’s name. CLICK HERE for more information.