A Tuesday Tragedy

This will make you sad, but that’s alright. If you never feel sad, it will be damn near impossible to ever know when you’re happy.

Earlier today my train was cancelled because an earlier train struck a car that was just sitting on the tracks. The women who was driving that car got out, so that’s not the part that you’ll find sad. She didn’t panic, so she got out and she lived. But it reminded me of this one time when someone didn’t. This is your last chance to bail from this post with your heart in tact.

About three years ago, when I was still a cop, we responded to a call where a car went into a rather wide and deep canal. When we got the call, witnesses said that the car hadn’t submerged yet, that they were able to shout to the  woman from the shoreline. When we arrived, the car was completely submerged. One of the other officers had torn off his gunbelt and body armor and dove in after her, but he couldn’t locate her or the vehicle.

The woman had been driving and her small pet dog was loose in the back. She turned to give it some attention or calm it down and she just drove off of the road into the canal. She tried to grab her pet, but the frightened dog wouldn’t hold still long enough for her to get control. The witnesses said that her panic was escalating and at one point she seemed to be struggling with her seatbelt. They shouted at her to open her door and swim out, but no one knew whether she had even been able to get the seatbelt off. Once the water began to spill in over the edge of the window, the car lost its buoyancy and sank to the bottom with her and the small dog inside.

When rescue divers pulled her out, four men had to restrain her husband, who had been told by a neighbor that he should drive to the scene. They worked on her for a few minutes, but we all knew she was dead. They also pulled the dog out and rested its small body on the edge of the shore and covered it with a blanket.

I can’t make this a funny or happy story. It’s not even a cautionary tale. Not a damn one of you is going to learn not to panic from something that you read on a blog. It’s just a bitter slice of life that I think about nearly anytime that something good or bad happens to you, me, or anyone else.


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  1. Let’s all be aware of one thing about a sinking car. You won’t be able to open any doors or windows if the outside of them is underwater but the car hasn’t filled with water yet. You have to wait until it’s almost completely filled and the pressure is equalized so you can get the door open. Mythbusters proved it and a truck driver saved his own life after seeing that episode.

    1. Thanks for that advice. Florida has tons of waterways, so I’m not sure why all of this isn’t part of the written driving test that you take to get your license.

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