How to Escape a Car If You’re Caught in a Flash Flood

Back now at 7:42 with a “Gma investigates” and an incredible new experiment this morning revealing what to do if you’re caught in a flash flood or fast-rising water. ABC’s Matt Gutman bravely got behind the wheel to test out a new way to escape a submerged car. Reporter: Imagine you’re behind the wheel of a car speeding around a corner one moment then losing control crashing into a lake the next.


You’re engineered to react with a single emotion. Terror. Let’s take a step back.

This wasn’t an accident. In fact, it’s all precisely planned under the guidance of the Indiana state police and doctor Gordon geesebreck the guru of a new theory of escaping a submerged car alive. What I’m trying to do is create the stop, drop and roll for the 21st century.



Seat belts, window, children, out. Reporter: On average 300 Americans die a year in submerged cars and I’m about to find out why. As we prepare to crash the car into the water, he walks me through the new method so we can all escape live.

Have the seat off off so you can move and two, you have to have an exit so you have somewhere to move to, not the door. You need to plan — There are three safety divers in the wear, one in the car equipped with air tanks should we get into real trouble.


All right, It’s go time. I round the cones and hit the ramp at 15 miles an hour. I unclick my seat belt.





Roll down the window get my pretend baby and flop out of the window into the water. Sorry, kid. Reporter: One key life “Saved by the bell” ING tip.

Do not touch your cell phone. If you touch it you’re probably going to die. Where your car is floating when you can open the windows before the water gets up above the side windows.


Reporter: Another tip, keep a sharp object or a window punching tool like this in your car. For decades experts taught us the only way to survive was letting the car fill with water before opening the door and switching out. That’s the method that gets you killed.


Reporter: Don’t wait for the water to come in the car. Unless you want that to be your final resting place. Reporter: Now it’s time to do it again.


This simulating real-life problems. This jeep will shove our car into the pond. Suddenly that jeep is pushing us much faster this time.



Well over 20 miles an hour. Going over the ramp and down the bank, all of us shocked at the force it hits the water. This time the water isn’t trickling in, it’s flooding in and I’m about to make it worse.


Try the door now. See if you can open it. We’re all surprised when somehow I can.

More water flooding in, the window is now stuck so I shatter it with that pumper but in a helter-skelter to escape the car I forget something. Really important. The child?

I shimmy out as the water engulfs the car. Watch how quickly this car goes under. But the safety diver is still inside.


Seconds later they pop out. If he hadn’t been trained it’s possible they would have drowned.

For “Good morning America,” Matt Gutman, ABC news, Indianapolis.

ABC News’ Matt Gutman


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