Know what to do

Published 1:52 pm Saturday, February 15, 2014

Almost on the heels of news that a woman had died from injuries she sustained when her family crashed into a retaining pond in the Burbage Grant community late Tuesday night, Suffolk officials were notifying the public of a second fatal accident involving someone driving into a body of water.

In a terrible coincidence that seemed to defy the odds, the death of Daniel Lee Post, 52, of Franklin, on Wednesday morning was the second such fatality within 10 hours. Post had called 911 to report that he’d crashed into a body of water, but he was unsure where he was. Going on the barest of information gleaned from a ping from Post’s mobile phone, police were finally able to track him down more than two hours later in a pond off of South Quay Road. By the time they had reached him, he was dead.

Though tragic in its own right, the story from Burbage Grant the previous evening had ended far better than it could have, were it not for the quick and heroic efforts of neighbors who heard the car driven by 25-year-old London Dubois crash into a pond near their homes.

When Josh West ran from his home, he found Dubois injured and unable to get out of the car, which was in four to five feet of freezing water. Then West saw Dubois’ two children facedown in the water, and he moved quickly to get them to the shore, where other neighbors helped revive them and find them a place to get warm. West then managed to free the father, but it took the arriving police divers about an hour to find the body of the mother, 23-year-old Latasha Dubois.

The tragedies remind us that we live in an area where nearly every trip puts us near some body of water. Since even the best drivers can find themselves involved in accidents, it’s good to be reminded the steps to take to give yourself the best chance of surviving such an ordeal. Suffolk police released the following suggestions on Thursday:

* Keep time on your side: Getting yourself and your loved ones out of the car should be your only priority. Call for help only after you’re out of the car and, if possible, out of the water.

* Remove your seatbelts: If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt when you hit the water, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t survive the impact or remain conscious long enough to react. But if you were, get yourself and then your kids out of their belts.

* Roll down the window: It will be too hard to open the door, and even electric windows can be opened for a short time after a car is submerged. Take a deep breath, try to roll the window down and then wriggle through it. If you can’t roll it down, find something hard and break it. Kick it out if necessary.

* Swim to safety: Get away from the vehicle as soon as possible. Don’t wait for it to hit the bottom first.