Nearly deadly decision to ignore signs

Local News

ST. JOSEPH, Ill. (WCIA) — A woman narrowly escaped death after her car was swept away by flood water. If it weren’t for a firefighter’s quick thinking, the rescue might not have happened.

The woman’s car is still under water. It’s stuck under the Salt Fork Creek, just north of I-74.

The water is murky and dark. There are road signs showing the road is closed, but like many drivers, she didn’t listen.

A typical mailbox is just under four feet. These are almost under water. It’s enough for a car’s wheels to be submerged. When that happens, a vehicle can be swept away.

“Got the lady on the phone. We’re trying to get her out of the vehicle and out of the water.”

“Apparently a car got swept away or something, trying to cross the bridge.”

“On our way out here, we were updated it had been completely swept into the field.”

A dive team was called in while crews struggled to find the woman who was floating away.

“We don’t have eyes on her anymore.”

“She got swept clear to the end where a bunch of trees and was hanging onto a tree.”

It wasn’t working, so a firefighter grabbed his personal canoe.

“All units from command, we’ve got our canoe with the victim.”

They finally pulled her to safety after 45 minutes in the water.

“She was conscious, alert and breathing, really cold, really wet, ready to get in and get warmed up.”

You don’t expect to see these types of water rescues in Central Illinois, unless you’re Christopher Write.

“Seems like everybody tries it once a year.”

Signs in the neighborhood tell you to turn around, but not everyone obeys.

“You just kind of wait and see if anyone’s going to actually try to go across the bridge or not.”

This time, the woman was lucky. First responders went out of their way to help, but this isn’t always the case.

“We can’t put our guys at risk if we don’t have the equipment to safely get out there to them.”

This isn’t the first time a car was swept away in the area. Sheriff Dan Walsh says it’s a low area, prone to flooding.

More than two years ago, a man was swept out on 1700 North. He survived, but his vehicle was left in the field for a month until the water receded.

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