Claremore Daily Progress

Community News Network

July 23, 2013

How to escape a car underwater

On Friday night, Morgan Lake lived through many drivers' nightmare: She found herself plummeting about 40 feet off the edge of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and into the water below. And the 22-year-old student managed a feat that pilots and military personnel take hours of specialized training to perfect: She escaped her sinking car, swam to safety and survived.

Ken Burton, president of Panama City, Fla.-based Stark Survival Co., has guided helicopter operators worldwide through his $2,295 underwater egress class. Lake had no practice in the art of escaping a vehicle, Burton said, but she got lucky.

"There are people who just have dumb luck," he said. "God was sitting on their right shoulders, so they get out, even without the knowledge, and that is so fortunate."

Burton, who was certified as an Air Force instructor, said he has trained corporate and government helicopter operators.

For those who might find themselves underwater in their cars, Burton offered this advice:

— Open the window as fast as possible — before you hit the water, if you can, or immediately afterward.

— Stay still, with your seat belt on, until the water in the car goes up to your chin. Then take several slow, deep breaths, and hold one.

— Do not try to open the door until water has stopped flooding into the car. Initially, the water outside will put pressure on the door of up to 600 pounds per square inch, meaning you won't be able to open it from the inside. The pressure inside and outside the car should equalize about the time you start holding your breath.

— If you can't open a door and you're trying to break a window instead, aim for a side window, never the windshield. Windshields are several layers thicker.

— Don't take off your seat belt until you have opened a door or window. Grip the steering wheel before you unbuckle. You'll need something keeping you tethered so that you can pull yourself out of the car.

— Once you're out of the vehicle, let your body take you to the surface. As Burton put it: "Don't worry about going up or down. When you take all those deep breaths and hold it, it's like you're inflating a balloon."

All of that, Burton said, should take about 30 seconds.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS-HB0713-HowardMartin-004.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    The mystery of what happened to a military transport plane that disappeared in the fall of 1952 into an Alaskan glacier was solved two years ago when a helicopter crew spotted the wreckage. But it took another two years to retrieve the remains of Airman Howard Miller and 16 other servicemen passengers. Saturday, Miller was laid to rest in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral and burial services.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • New York to offer free lunch to all middle-school students

    New York's $75 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that began last week includes the first step toward offering free lunch for all 1.1 million students, expanding a program now reserved only for the city's poorest children.

    July 9, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.24.10 AM.png VIDEO: Pilot buys pizzas for storm-delayed travelers

    A Frontier Airlines pilot went above and beyond the call of duty when a recent flight from Washington, D.C. to Denver was diverted to Cheyenne, Wyoming due to bad weather.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why North Korean cheerleaders may soon descend on the South

    When you think of North Korea, "cheerleaders" may not be the first thing that springs to mind. The Hermit Kingdom is perhaps better known for less savory things like gulag-like labor camps and leadership purges.

    July 8, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 11.46.13 AM.png VIDEO: Foiled beach gear theft goes viral

    Video capturing a bizarre confrontation with two women allegedly attempting to steal beach gear on a Florida beach has gone viral.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.40.20 AM.png VIDEO: Sleeping fan suing Yankees, ESPN for $10M

    A fan caught on camera sleeping during a recent game at Yankee Stadium has filed suit against the Yankees and ESPN, claiming he suffered emotional distress when two announcers mocked him on the air.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo