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Surviving when a car goes in the water

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-09 08:42:19-05

The tragic deaths of a mother and her two children in an accident over the weekend have put vehicle submersion safety on the minds of many. Shatoria Brown, 27, and her children Ra'Majesty, 5, and Ra'Layah, 3, died after Brown's vehicle crashed into a pond in Immokalee.

The Florida Highway Patrol said that Brown had been driving eastbound on Eden Street, but instead of stopping at the end of the street, continued past Apple Street and crashed into the pond with the two children as passengers.

Battalion Chief Robert Smith of North Collier Fire-Rescue said that a person who crashes their vehicle into the water generally has 30 to 60 sixty seconds to save their life before the car sinks.

"That's your time to stay calm, gather yourself, roll down the window and get out," Smith said.

With so many ponds and canals in Southwest Florida, he said it's a good idea to keep a strong, sharp tool like a center punch at hand in your car to smash the windows if they don't roll down.

"Normally, the batteries are still operable so you can roll the windows down," he said.

Then, he said, it's a simple matter of unfastening your seat belt, getting any children or other passengers and getting out the window of the vehicle.

"Unbuckle yourself, grab your children and get out," Smith said.

North Collier Fire-Rescue responded to a car-in-the-water crash Friday, after the driver, a young woman, accidentally drove into a canal near DeSoto Boulevard and 29th Avenue in Golden Gate Estates. Her baby was in the car with her, and she called 911 for help.

"I'm in the canal, and my car sinking and I have the baby in here," she told the dispatcher.

"Take your seat belt off, get the baby out of the car seat and open the window, and get out of that car as fast as you possibly can," the dispatcher told her.

The woman and her baby complied, and both survived without injury. However, according to the Collier County Sheriff's Office, is normally not advisable to take the time to call 911 - just roll down the window, unbuckle your seat belt and exit the vehicle before it sinks.