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Submerged Vehicle Survival in the Carolinas – What You Need to Know

Late last month, three South Carolina residents drowned in their vehicle, following a crash on a Louisiana highway.Our Greenville, South Carolina personal injury lawyers note the case had initially been filed as a missing persons report. If there is anything positive that can be born of this, it is an increased awareness for all drivers about how to survive a crash in which your vehicle becomes submerged.

In these cases, time is of critical importance; educating yourself can mean the difference between life or death. Officials are still investigating exactly how this situation unfolded, but what they have so far pieced together, according to local news reports, is this:

Two men and a woman set out from Columbia, SC to Shreveport, LA to pick up a new vehicle. That was January 7. The last anyone heard from them was that evening. Three days later, officials in South Carolina issued an advisory for all states on the I-20 corridor to be alerted to the vehicle and its passengers.

Two weeks later, officials in LA sent a helicopter out over the highway over the Tensas River to look for them. The bumper of the vehicle was seen floating. The following morning, officials were able to find the vehicle in the river, the three occupants deceased inside.

We don’t know much about how the crash occurred, but officials say the car ran off the road, into the median and over the bridge.

We don’t know whether the crash that led to the car ending up in the river could have been avoided. It’s possible that the driver may have been fatigued, considering the long distance they intended to cover in such a short time. It’s also possible the driver swerved to avoid another vehicle and lost control. We just don’t know.

What we can tell you is that if you end up submerged, you will have mere seconds to act appropriately and escape safely.

  • Buckle up. There is a flawed perception that if you are wearing a seat belt, you won’t be able to get it undone and you will be stuck. This is not the case, and the greater danger if you aren’t restrained is that you could be knocked unconscious – and therefore rendered helpless to save yourself and your passengers.
  • Remain calm. This is easier said than done, of course, but it’s critical for you maintain a level head. You will inevitably be less effective if you are overwhelmed with panic.
  • Unbuckle your seat belt and stop to evaluate your situation.
  • If your vehicle is sinking slowly, it should be possible for you to roll the windows down and jump out before swimming away.
  • If your vehicle is sinking fast, you aren’t going to be able to immediately roll down the windows or open the doors. In this case, you have to actually wait for the vehicle to sink further down so that the pressure is equalized. Use this time to take off your shoes and heavy clothing.
  • Once the water has reached roughly halfway up the window, begin rolling the window down. Stay in the pocket of air that’s available until you are able to get the window down far enough for you to get out.

Contact our South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. by calling 1.800.533.6845.

Additional Resources:
Three South Carolina residents apparently drown in Interstate 20 accident, Jan. 31, 2013, Staff Report, Magnolia Reporter
More Blog Entries:
Improved Laws Would Mean Fewer Car Accidents in Carolinas, Jan. 30, 2013, South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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