On Christmas Day at just before 1 PM, Dive Rescue, Oregon State Police, Klamath County Sheriff’s Deputies, and ODOT Incident Response were dispatched to Highway 140 West near mile post 58 for a report of a Ford sedan in Klamath Lake with two occupants still inside.
A 911 dispatcher was on the phone with a person (who we believe was the driver). The driver said the front of the car was submerging and the rear of the car was still floating. She reported that an 11 year old child was her passenger. The driver told dispatchers that she was unable to get out of the car. Just before the cell phone connection went silent the driver told dispatchers that her car was sinking.
According to emergency radio traffic, initially the child was pulled from the car by people who happened on the scene. The 39 year old driver remained in the car until she was rescued a short time later.
Both the woman and child were placed into a nearby vehicle with the heater on and blankets were placed over them.
Dive Rescue began to respond but was cancelled because both occupants had already been rescued. The vehicle was later removed by a local tow company.
At the time of the accident, very icy conditions were reported in the immediate vicinity and first responders warned each other of the dangerous conditions as they responded to the scene.
As you may be aware, vehicles submerged or partially submerged in water may be difficult to escape from. Electronics in the submerged vehicle most likely will stop working moments after the engine compartment and electrical equipment are submerged. Your power door locks and windows will cease to function more likely than not. Also an impact may deform the window frame or door and leave you trapped inside the vehicle. Water pressure on the window can add to the difficulty of escaping.
Klamath Alerts recommends you carry a tool like this one that would allow you to easily break your window if you became trapped. It’s best if you have it secured somewhere like the center console or other location that you can reach easily while you are in your seat and have your seatbelt on. Remember, it’s possible your vehicle could be upside down as well so mount or carry the tool in a easy to reach but secure location. Having this tool or one like it could potentially help you free someone else if you drove up on an accident scene. The tool linked to above can also easily cut a seatbelt.
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