ST. TAMMANY, La. - After a pickup truck left the roadway near Pump Slough Road Tuesday morning, it became completely submerged by excess water from high levels in the Pearl River, according to St. Tammany Fire District No. 11.
Increased river levels have left the area between the boat launch at I-59 (Exit 5A) and the "Last Chance" gas station under water for multiple days.
The driver, Bill Dickens, said he leaned over to change the radio station in the truck, and when he looked back at the road, there was only water. He had to struggle to stay alive.
"As I was getting out, my foot got stuck in the steering wheel and the truck was kind of turning on its side, like this," he said. "Water was coming in underneath my legs and my butt and I was able to get it free, so I swam out, luckily."
A recovery diver from the Slidell Police Department responded to the scene and was able to attach a cable from a tow truck to the vehicle. The truck was then successfully pulled out of the water.
Fire District No. 11 responded to another vehicle in the water on Thursday just off I-59 near mile marker four. The driver also escaped from a window in this situation. That’s in addition to two fatal crashes, one in Tangipahoa Parish and one in St. Tammany, over the weekend.
Authorities say this should be a lesson to others about driving in inclement weather.
"When we see it actually happen in real life, it does kind of bring some highlight to it and unfortunately, it does happen,” said Louisiana State Police Troop L spokesman Trooper Nick Manale, “We're not here just talking about abstract theories and abstract safety topics. This does happen every day."
So to prevent it from happening another day, troopers say keep your drive simple and safe.
"You cannot drive like you would on a beautiful, sunny day when it's raining outside or there's water on the road. You have to slow down and be cautious," said Manale.