Lifesaving tips on how to get out of a submerged car

NEW MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– A New Milford woman drowned in her own car this weekend. The car, with the 46 year-old woman inside, plunged into Lake Lilinonah in Bridgewater around noontime on Saturday.

It took two hours for divers to pull her out of that vehicle. Getting out of a submerged car is difficult, but not impossible.

Imagine it, you’ve gone off the road, into a river or lake, now your car is filling up with water…what do you do? The woman this weekend couldn’t or didn’t get out in time. But a few years ago, our own Bob Wilson showed us what you can do to escape a sinking car.

Related: Woman dies after car submerged in Bridgewater lake

This was back in 2007. Bob went into the water surrounded by divers and safety features, so he was not in any danger. Even so, getting out of the car was not easy.

First step, keep calm and don’t panic. Second step is to unbuckle your seat belt and get ready to move because the third step is the tough one. You won’t be able to open the car door because of the force of the water pressing on the outside of the car, so you have to wait for the pressure to equalize, which means taking a big breath and waiting for the car to fill up with water, then you’ll be able to open the door.

The only other option is to break the car’s window, and for that, you need the right tools.

“This is the point where you get ready to blow out your window. This is the hole punch, and I’ve got another backup one right here. You want to hit it in the corner. At this point we’re going to let it in and see how fast it comes in. It breaks, you take your final breath and…” said Bob Wilson.

He got out just fine after breaking the window, but he went into the water in that car 5 times, and the first four he tried other ways of getting out and had to give up and use the scuba gear the rescue divers had in the car for safety. It was only that fifth time, with the glass breaking tools, that he got out on his own. Those tools are available in any hardware store or online.

This weekend, 46 year-old Ewa Bielska died when her car rolled down the Bridgewater boat ramp into the part of the Housatonic River known as Lake Lilinonah. She was under water for more than two hours before divers could get to her. It’s all still under investigation. We don’t know why that car ended up in the water, or if she tried to get out.

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