A DRIVER whose car ended up in the River Avon in Stratford has survived to tell her story.
Gina Dawson was attempting to manouevre her Mitsubishi out of the parking area near Stratford Boat Club on Tuesday afternoon (November 8) when she ended up accidentally reversing her car into the river at speed.
Police and firefighters were called to the scene and all that remained to suggest the completely submerged car had ever been in the water was a bouy, attached to the car before it sunk, and the tip of the car aerial – until it was winched out of the river later in the day.
The 51-year-old, who is a member of Stratford Adaptive Rowing Club, told The Observer exactly what happened.
She began: “It could have been worse. I have MS and cannot walk very well. I had been rowing a couple of laps, something I like to do to manage my mobility, and my legs get tired. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
“What I should have done was go and rest and have a coffee. What I did instead was try and reverse my car out of a parking space. I could feel my legs getting heavier and the more I tried to put my foot on the accelerator, the heavier my legs felt and I just panicked when I felt the car clip the edge of the tarmac on the water’s edge. Instead of putting my foot to the brake, my foot slammed down on the accelerator and I ended up in the water.”
Gina continued: “I thought what am I going to do? The guys from the club on the water’s edge were shouting to me and I was calling back to them ‘just stay there, don’t come in’.
“They told me to get out of the car and by this point it was coming up to the windows and starting to come in. I wound the window all the way down and stuck my phone and my keys in my pocket, then I climbed out of the car window.
“It turned out I was just in time as something must have happened at that very moment to the electrics as the car windows started going up on their own.”
Gina ended up being saved from the car roof from a member of the rowing club who swam out to save her.
“Paul from the rowing club came out to get me. I like wild swimming but not necessarily with my car. I was able to go into the boat club and have a shower to get warm but I didn’t have any dry clothes. I only started at the club in the summer so haven’t got into the habit of bringing spare clothes with me. I’m in a right mismatch. I’m wearing my boyfriend’s oversize boots. I look a right state.
She stoically added: “You have to laugh about it. It will become one of those do you remember the time when I drove into the river moments.”