Flooding may not seem as daunting a disaster as a tornado, fire or earthquake, but in reality, it can pose serious dangers.
The floodwater in Stillwater, Oklahoma, had become too deep to cross when Grace Welch, 20, unknowingly drove her car into danger.
Unaware of the floodwater’s depth, Welch attempted to keep driving her Ford Focus. To her horror, the water soon overtook her vehicle.
“I really wasn’t paying attention, I just thought my little car could make it. When I started driving in is when my car basically started spinning and went over into the ditch,” Welch told KWTV-DT.
The water was high enough to cover the barbed wire fence lining the road, stretching wide enough to resemble a river. Welch, terrified, was trapped as her car began to sink.
Phillip Germain happened to be driving nearby. He was assessing whether or not he could make it to work when he spotted Welch’s car halfway submerged in the water.
“I just jumped my vehicle up on the curb right there — there were no barricades by then, the police weren’t there yet — I had noticed there were two guys attempting to help her,” Germain told the Stillwater News Press.
Germain asked the men if they were already helping Welch before filming the rescue with his phone. When he realized they were having difficulty rolling Welch’s window down, he jumped into action.
“I saw the car sinking, I threw my phone down, and I was just like, ‘I’ve got to help her,'” Germain said.
At age 53, Germain says he can still “swim like a fish.” He put his athletic skills to use, jumping into floodwaters that reached his chin. Once he approached the car, he used all his strength to open it.
“I just threw my foot against the door and pulled the door really hard, the back door, and was able to pry it open,” Germain said.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Lynda Stevens-Stromski was also helping with the rescue. She had a tool to break open the window in case they needed to expedite the process.
“I knew I only had a short time window to get her out once I opened that door. I knew it would start sinking,” Germain said.
He was right. Just a few moments after Germain carried Welch out of the car, it was completely submerged underwater.
Thanks to the kindness of strangers willing to put themselves in harm’s way, Welch was able to dry off and recover from the incident. She warned others to stop before attempting to drive into floodwater.
“They say turn around don’t drown, and now I know why,” Welch said.
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