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Man trapped in ditch for 15 hours

A 63-year-old man spent 15 hours trapped in his car in a deep ditch after swerving to avoid a deer on the road, officials said.

Donald Ray McSweeney's car plunged down an 8- to 10-foot embankment and into some tall brush before hitting a tree late Friday.

McSweeney, of Hawthorne, broke his right hip in the accident, which left him unable to crawl out of the car.

He was doing fine after hip surgery Monday at Shands Hospital at AGH in Gainesville, said his son, Don McSweeney Jr.

The vegetation concealed his car off of U.S. 301, 9 miles south of Hawthorne in Central Florida. McSweeney's cell phone was not charged, so he could not call for help, and the accident disabled his car horn.

McSweeney whistled and yelled for help when he was conscious.

Jim Thompson of Ocala and his friend Staci Rathbun heard the whistle as they drove past Saturday afternoon. Thompson slowed down, didn't see anything and left.

Thompson said he was bothered by the sound and returned about an hour later, when he saw tire tracks leading to the ditch.

"Then we saw the car and him," he said. "The car was really smashed up. I don't know how he survived."

Thompson, who has worked in the medical field, checked the man's vital signs and gave him lemonade until help arrived.

"I don't know how we found him or why we went back," Thompson said. "It just bothered me that something was in the trees."

In August 2000, 83-year-old Tillie Tooter was trapped in her car in a bug-infested swamp for three days near Fort Lauderdale. A 15-year-old boy working along the interstate saw the car hidden in trees. Rescue workers pulled her out.

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