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Surviving a vehicle crash into water

Posted: 6:32 PM, Jul 31, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-31 22:32:43Z

A man and woman, both in their 70s, died Monday after the man lost control of their vehicle on State Route 29 near Immokalee. The car landed in a canal. The man and woman were rushed to a hospital, where they later died. 

"The car was upside down in the canal," said Immokalee Fire Chief Michael Choate. "(When) our battalion chief entered the water, there were already some bystanders in there trying to free both of the victims."

While the car landing on its roof may have been a factor in the deadly outcome, Choate said that in many cases, people can survive when a vehicle goes into the water - as long as they stay calm.

"It's easy for us to say, but we always try to tell everyone: don't panic," Choate said.

Choate said that recovery crews often find victims in water vehicle crashes who have died with their seat belts still fastened.

"The number one step they always forget is to undo their seat belt because they're in such a panic trying to get out," he said.

He said it's no use trying to open the door against the water pressure. But after a vehicle goes into the water, there should still be enough power for another minute or more to roll the windows down.

"Get the window down and get out the window," Choate said. "Get the small children first, get them out of their car seats, out of their seat belts."