How to escape a vehicle crash in water

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 6:25 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 12 at 6:41 PM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
Email: kmoore@wwltv.com | Twitter: @katiecmoore

NEW ORLEANS -- The drowning death of Terrilynn Monette is making many wonder what they would do if they ended up in a car under water.

Recently a man ended up in Lake Pontchartrain in his car after a driver in the left lane got over too soon and pushed his car over the guard rail into the lake.

He survived. Would you?

“It's something that always goes through your mind. You never want to see it happen to anybody,” said Colt Bruhl about the possibility of driving into the water.

Two weeks ago, he saw it happen to his childhood friend.

“I heard, ‘Colt, it's me, Matt. I'm in the water.’,” he said. Bruhl is a member of the Motorist Assistance Patrol for the Causeway. He was one of the first rescuers at the scene back in may when his friend ended up in the murky water of the lake.

Causeway cameras captured the accident. You can watch it here. Matthew Myer was in the white car that gets pushed over the guard rail when another driver changes lanes into him.

“He swam over to the spare tire, was holding on until our map unit arrived,” said Causeway Police Chief Nick Congemi.

How did he get out?

Congemi said Myer’s windows were down when his car hit the water and he was able to swim out.

“When you go over in Lake Pontchartrain, it's totally black down there. Whether the windows are up or down, it's totally black because of these murky waters. You've gotta depend on your own survival skills,” Congemi said.

“The roof of the car is not always gonna indicate what's up because the vehicle can flip upside down,” said Louisiana State Trooper Evan Harrell. “Bubbles don't lie. They always tell you which way is up and you follow the bubbles.”

If the windows no longer work, and the car is filling up with water, you may have to break out because the pressure of the water against the doors will keep you from opening them.

“If you can't unroll the window and it shorts out, that's where a safety tool comes into play,” Trooper Harrell said.

They’re available at hardware stores. Some are tiny plastic gadgets with spring-loaded tools that bounce back and break the window. Some are just metal picks that do the same thing.

One variety had both a pointed metal tip and a seatbelt cutter to get it off in the event of a crash.

Experts say if you're ever in this situation and need to break out a window for an escape route, don't go for the windshield for an escape route because it won’t break. The Bridge House let us demonstrate on a car headed for the junkyard.

The windshield is tempered glass, so experts say you should always go for one of the side windows, like the driver's side.

In many cases, Congemi said breaking a window will be a non-issue.

“Normally when these vehicles go over, the windows blow out,” he said.

Another good tip is to swim toward the light. Most of the time if it's during the day, the light is at the top of the water.

 

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