'I turned around to get a shot of the alligator, and I saw a car under the water,' the 40-year-old revealed.
Christiano Piquet was at the right place at the right time. The Miami real estate broker was piloting his paramotor—a personal flying machine comprised of a paraglider and an engine-powered propeller strapped to the pilot—like he does every Sunday before going to church, when he noticed an alligator in a canal near Homestead, Florida. As he descended to get a better look, he noticed something else: a woman clinging to the roof of a submerged car in the canal, pleading for help. "I turned around to get a shot of the alligator, and I saw a car under the water," Piquet told The Miami Herald. "I flew closer to the car and I saw a woman on top."
The 40-year-old, who was wearing a body camera, captured footage of the unexpected discovery and the woman's eventual rescue. The footage shows Piquet making an emergency landing and removing the heavy equipment from his back before running toward her and asking if she needed help. "Oh my God!" the woman can be heard shouting. "I fell with my car in here." The commotion eventually caught the attention of a resident nearby who came to assist with a rope, reports NBC Miami. The woman was pulled to safety within minutes and although she initially appeared to be in shock, she seemed OK after being brought to dry land.
"In that moment, I think God told me, 'my friend, land and save that one life,'" Piquet said. "We landed between power lines and uneven terrain... it was a terrible landing situation. For some reason, I was calm." Miami-Dade fire confirmed that six units responded to the traffic accident involving a vehicle in a canal near the 20400 block of Southwest 192nd Street at 8:35 a.m. on October 30. By the time they arrived at the scene, they found the driver already out of the water. Crews searched the area to make sure that no one else was in the canal and transported the woman to the hospital to be checked for injuries.
"A MDFR diver conducted a search around the submerged vehicle to make sure no one else was submerged," a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesperson told PEOPLE, adding that the driver, whose name and condition has not been released, was transported to a local hospital. Piquet—who has been paramotoring since 2015—said he was happy to have missed church as it meant he was able to help save the life of the woman who may have drowned if he hadn't passed above the canal at that particular time. "For some reason I was better suited being there at the right place and the right time," he said.
"God cares about her life because he put me in that moment, that perfect moment, on that day," Piquet said. "Maybe I would have flown somewhere else." It remains unclear how her car ended up in the canal.