(AP) – As heavy rains and flash floods doused southwestern Missouri Friday, Layton Hoyer wanted to get a closer look at the rising river levels. That is when he noticed an SUV caught in the flash floods near Granby.
At first, Hoyer thought the car might have been abandoned, but flashing brake lights caught his eye. The lights were blinking as if someone was intentionally tapping the brakes. He got on top of the train tracks near the ditch where the SUV was trapped and saw someone inside.
“I could see this elderly woman lying in this car trying to stay in the air bubble,” he said.
The 33-year-old quickly called 911, but he said the woman didn’t have much time left as the car continued to sink. Hoyer tried to reach her car from the passenger side, but the current was too strong. He then waded through the cold water before he too was submerged and then lunged, grabbing onto her car.
“I got a hold of the back door and started trying to pull the door open. But the vacuum on the door was so tight,” he said.
He said he was able to break the seal at the top of her window jam and open the door.
“I swear there was only a foot of air gap left in the back part of her car,” he said. “I just grabbed her by both arms and pulled her out of there.”
Hoyer rushed to get them both inside his truck to warm up.
Jim Channel, assistant Granby fire chief, was responding to a call of an 80-year-old woman trapped in a car when he arrived on the scene. Channel had been called to water rescues by Old Ritchey Road before, but he wasn’t surprised to see who was there.
“I’ve known the young man all his life, and he will do it again tomorrow,” Channel said of Hoyer. “He didn’t even think about what he was doing.”
Channel said he along with other rescue workers attempted to save the women’s three dogs inside the car, who were trapped in cages, but they couldn’t reach them in time before getting called to another water rescue.
Hoyer didn’t get a chance to get the woman’s full name. But he said he would like to see her again.
“I would love to put my arms around her ’cause she just cried in my arms and told me how thankful she was when the ambulance got there,” he said. “I was so thankful that God put me there to help her.”