A teenager captured the terrifying moment her car got caught in a flash flood and turned off, forcing her to abandon the vehicle and hold on to a tree for dear life.
Catherine, Ke, 18, was driving to her boyfriend home’s in St. Louis, Missouri, in the pouring rain when her car started to fill with water. She shared footage of the life-or-death situation on TikTok, where it has been viewed more than eight million times.
‘I was driving on the road, and I couldn’t see the flood at all, or else I would have turned around and gone back,’ she told BuzzFeed News. ‘My car engine turned off and the battery was still on and I started hydroplaning.’
No warning: Catherine, Ke, 18, was driving to her boyfriend’s home in St. Louis, Missouri, in the pouring rain when drove into a flash flood
Life-saving decision: The car started to flood, and she made the quick decision to get out of the vehicle to seek safety
‘Then the water started coming in, and my first thought was to get out of the car and walk to the non-flooded part of the street,’ she explained.
Catherine said she started filming the situation because she wanted to post the video on the social media platform, but she also wanted to have it to show her insurance company what happened.
The footage showed the floodwater pouring into her car, prompting her to make the quick decision to get out of the vehicle to seek safety.
However, the current was too strong, and she couldn’t make it to the other side of the street. Catherine had to hold onto a tree and wait for help.
SOS: Catherine tried to walk to the non-flooded part of the street, but the current was too strong. She had to hold on to a tree while she called 911
Safe: Catherine had to let go of her Michael Kors purse and filmed it sinking in the water. She was eventually rescued by a boat
Close call: Catherine’s mother had tried to find her, but her car also got flooded
‘There was a lot going on in my head,’ she told BuzzFeed News. ‘At first I was worried about my wallet being lost, but then I realized it was a life or death situation. I realized I needed to stay calm and call 911 immediately.’
The video cut to her holding onto the tree while talking to an operator for nearly an hour. She eventually had to let go of her Michael Kors purse she was holding and filmed it sinking in the water.
Catherine’s mother tried to find her, but her car also got flooded. She was finally rescued by a boat, and her quick thinking likely saved her life.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has reported that ‘almost half of flash flood fatalities occur in vehicles.’
Destroyed: Both Catherine and her mom’s cars were totaled after the flash flood
Found it: Catherine did, however, find her wallet and shared footage of her money and cards lying out to dry
Just six inches of floodwater can reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles, which can lead to loss of control and stalling. A foot of water can cause many vehicles to be swept away.
People should never drive through or over a flooded road or bridge, according to ABC News. If your vehicle is surrounded by water, you should get out and seek higher ground.
If you are stranded in a tree or building, you should never enter the floodwater. You should stay and wait to be rescued as Catherine did.
In a follow-up video, Catherine revealed that both her and her mom’s cars were totaled in the flash flood. She did, however, find her wallet and shared footage of her money and cards lying out to dry.