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EXCLUSIVE: Floodwater survivor tells tale

December 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A woman's truck went off the freeway and rolled into a raging flood channel Monday. In an Eyewitness News exclusive, she talks about how she fought to survive.There were two vehicles that went into that flood channel during Monday's storm. One driver escaped unhurt. Tuesday, the driver who was badly injured told her story exclusively to Eyewitness News.

At times Monday the rain was coming down in sheets and it created some very dangerous driving conditions. It caused one woman to sail off the 15 Freeway. Bad enough, but that was just the beginning of a very harrowing experience. She landed in a gushing river of storm runoff and was carried away.

"I'm very lucky I'm very fortunate," said accident survivor Kristen Burgner. "I'm just glad to be here."

Kristen Burgner doesn't look lucky, but after going through what she did it's amazing she's alive.

It was storming Monday morning when the 25-year-old Burgner was driving south on the 15 Freeway in Corona. As she approached Magnolia Avenue, her truck began to hydroplane, then careened down an 80-foot embankment and into a storm-fed wash.

"I was upside down when I landed and I was able -- the windows had been blown out from the rolling, then I was able to swim out," said Burgner.

But then the truck rolled over on top of her, pinning her underwater. Moments later it rocked off her leg and she surfaced, only to be caught up in the rushing current, swept about half a mile down the wash in icy waters, the whole time slamming into rocks and debris.

Burgner, a former gymnast, says she was able to pull herself out of the wash, squeeze through a chain-link fence and crawl to a nearby home. That's when Cary Callahan found her.

"Whole side of her face is like, twice as big as the other, and she was bleeding in her hands and elbows and mouth," said Callahan.

Burgner suffered torn ligaments in her knee, a sprained ankle, and numerous cuts and bruises. She counted at least six times she easily could have been killed, but says she stayed calm and focused on her son.

"I was just running on adrenalin and thinking about my son Lucas," said Burgner. "The only reason I had motivation was because of Lucas."

Burgner is hospitalized at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar. She's expected to be released as early as Wednesday.


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