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Woman crawls to safety with 2 broken legs

December 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Two cars slide off a major Southern California freeway and are swept into a rain-swollen flood channel, forcing one driver to pull herself to safety.The vehicles veered off a stretch of the 15 Freeway in Corona and one of the drivers got thrown into the raging channel.

WATCH: Woman with two broken legs crawls out of debris to nearby residence

A battalion chief with the Corona Fire Department was one of the first responders on the scene Monday morning. He said it was a miracle these two drivers are alive. Both drivers lost control of their vehicles during the morning rain. One man was fortunate enough to walk away from it without any injuries, but one woman got caught up in the flood-control channel.

Corona fire officials say the first vehicle, a black pickup truck, left the southbound 15 Freeway and landed upside down in the flood channel. Fortunately the driver got out in time and was OK.

But moments later a second vehicle, a white pickup truck, hydroplaned and lost control on the 15, between Magnolia and Ontario. It rolled several times and it too ended up in the flood channel. But it's what happened next that has fire fighters amazed.

"At some point in the channel the driver and the vehicle became separated and they rode the channel separately for about 1,000 feet," said Battalion Chief Mike Samuels, Corona Fire Dept. "She went underneath the freeway in a tunnel and came to rest on an embankment on the east side of the freeway."

The woman got caught in debris, then managed to free herself, and crawled to a nearby residence with two broken legs. Cary Callahan is the homeowner who called 911 for help.

"I just saw a young lady come out in not good shape. And realized that, wow, that girl needs help. So I went out and helped her up to here and called 911 while I was doing it. The guys were here in three minutes, they did a fantastic job," said Callahan.

An ambulance was on the scene within minutes and was able to transport the woman to Inland Valley Medical Center in Murrieta. Firefighters say it's a miracle she and the first driver survived.

"I saw the vehicles. The channel's full. It's flowing about 40 miles an hour. I don't think there's anything we could have done for them had they got stuck in the vehicles," said Batt. Chief Samuels.

The woman was hospitalized with two broken legs. She is 26 years old, from Fallbrook.

Fire officials believe wet weather and speed likely caused both drivers to lose control of their vehicles. And they have advice for drivers during the wet weather. They say give yourself lots of time, slow down, and leave a lot of space between you and the driver in front.


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