Marion Co. Sheriff's Office
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News Release
Deputies Respond To Buena Vista Ferry for a Vehicle into The Willametter River - 12/03/17

Last night, December 2nd, at around 6:40 p.m.; A 23 year old male mistakenly drove his vehicle down the ramp at the Buena Vista Ferry and into the frigid Willamette River. The young man was able to immediately exit the vehicle before it became fully submerged without injury. He told Deputies that he did not see any roadway signs and thought he was simply driving down a hill. Deputies determined the driver was not impaired at the time of the incident. The man was the only occupant in the vehicle.

The Sheriff's Office would like to remind drivers to be extremely cautious when navigating dark county roadways. These dark and rainy fall evenings can make it more difficult to see roadway signs, exits, and hazards that may be present. Please allow extra time if needed when traveling this time of year.


Also, a few tips in the event you ever have a need to escape a submerged car:

* Suggestion #1 -- You're going to need every second to get out of your vehicle. Worry about calling for help once you've made it and are safe. Time is critical.
* Suggestion #2 -- Unbuckle your seatbelt immediately.
* Suggestion #3 -- Don't open the door! Roll down the windows instead. Opening the door is very difficult against the water pressure and it also allows so much water into the vehicle that it will speed up the sinking process. You'll have 30 seconds to a minute until the water rises to the bottom of the passenger windows. This is commonly referred to as the floating period. After that, the water pressure will force the window against the doorframe, making it essentially impossible to roll down.

Caveat to Suggestion #3 -- Break that window. Since most vehicles these days have electronically controlled windows, the circuits probably will short before you have a chance to roll them down. In that case, you'll need to break the window open, ideally with a took to break windows which is always a good idea to keep in your car. Make sure you keep a tool like this within reach at all times, otherwise you may never get to it in time and they won't work underwater. Again, you will have to act quickly. There are a variety of tools you can research for purchase which uses a spring-loaded mechanism to shatter glass. If you ever practice using such a tool to break a window make sure you use the appropriate safety equipment to protect yourself from injury.
* Suggestion #4 -- Children First. Everybody should go out their own window if possible, but the kids are going to have a harder time fighting though the rush of water, so push them out if you have to. Starting with the oldest kids and taking the youngest out in your arms.
* Suggestion #5 -- Get out. Swim through the broken window as fast as possible. If you've not been able to get that window rolled down or broken, you'll still have a chance to escape. Once the water fills the car, the pressure will be equalized and you will be able to open the door and swim to safety.

As always take care and stay safe!!!

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