TAMPA, Fla. — A woman whose car flipped off Interstate 4 into a water-filled ditch on a foggy New Year's morning is lucky to be alive after being pulled to safety just in time, the Sheriff's Office said.
- FHP: Woman cut off by another vehicle, lost control on I-4
- Woman's car flipped into water-filled ditch near fairgrounds
- Deputies, fire rescue found her car in fog, pulled her to safety
Troopers said Amanda Nicole Antonio, 20, was traveling on eastbound I-4 near the Florida State Fairgrounds just before 4 a.m. when she was cut off by another vehicle and lost control. They said her 2008 Toyota Scion then ran off the roadway and flipped over into a deep ditch full of water.
As the water rose in her car, Antonio was able to find a bubble of air and stayed on the phone with dispatchers for about 20 minutes, Hillsborough County deputies said.
She used an Apple Watch to find the phone and call 911, but had a hard time talking because she was running out of air.
More than a dozen Sheriff's Office patrol units responded and looked for her in thick fog.
"I swam up there to be able to breathe still," Antonio told Spectrum Bay News 9. "I had to breathe out of my nose. And I lost hope because she said, 'We can't find you' and then she's like, 'Can you hear someone?'
"And I heard 'Are you there, are you there?' and I’m screaming yes, yes. But they can't hear me because the windows are underwater," she said.
Deputies said they found her just in time, and a dive team pulled her to safety.
"We were able to pry open the driver's door maybe 8 inches, 10 inches. We still couldn't get to her, (but) luckily, the passenger door was so badly encased, we were able to pry that open and get her out," Sheriff's Office diver Chris Sullivan said.
Antonio was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries.
She said she is grateful to the first-responders who rescued her.