Driver survives dramatic plunge into creek; family wants road fix

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, July 1, 2013

WARD, S.C. (WRDW) -- Submerged in water, covered in mud and football field length from the road is where tow truck workers found a white P.T. Cruiser on Monday morning. The driver, Reanna Bange of Saluda County, looked on.

"You know the lazy rivers?" Reanna said. "It was not a lazy river."

The past 24 hours have been surreal for Reanna. It started on S.C. 193 near the intersection of Thunder Road. After heavy rain, Reanna hydroplaned off the road and plunged into a culvert yards below. Reanna says she was wearing a seat belt and driving slowly, but it didn't matter.

"When I landed in the water, my car was right side up with all four wheels going down the creek," she said.

In a torrent of water, the car was pushed downstream. Eventually, it overturned. Water began filling in, but Reanna couldn't get out. She was left with just a couple inches of air to breathe, but Reanna called her mother in a panic. Her mother relayed the message to her son, Reanna's brother, who swam up just minutes later.

"I just wanted to make sure she was breathing and could talk," said her brother, Daniel.

"He was trying to kick and hit the glass to where his hand was bleeding a little," Reanna said.

"The whole way down the creek, while he was swimming down to get her out, he just knew he was going to find her drowning and that he was going to have to do CPR," said their father, Bill Bange.

"You're fighting the water," Daniel said. "All the elements, basically, are against you."

After that fight, Reanna was pulled out without a scratch on her. Her brother says she clicked the lock on the door and was finally able to get out.

"This could have been really bad," Bill said. "We could have been calling the coroner out here instead of a tow truck."

After hours and hours of work Monday by Minick's Wrecker and Body Shop, the car was slowly hoisted back to the road where dozens of onlookers gathered. It was the end to a long day of work, but Bill now has a new focus.

"I want this fixed, you know. This is my main mission right now," he said of the portion of the road that crosses over the creek. There is no guardrail or and measure to prevent a car from easily toppling more than a dozen feet into the culvert and creek below.

Bill is asking and pleading the South Carolina Department of Transportation for a guardrail so something like this never happens again.

"I thought I was going to drown," said his daughter.

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