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Woman rescued from drowning in canal crash horror

A woman was saved from her car as it filled with water after skidding into a Moray canal.

Dr Gray's hospital: where the woman was taken
© STV

An RAF serviceman has been hailed a hero for saving a woman trapped in a car filling with water after crashing into a canal.

Christine Rhodes, 47, skidded her Fiat Punto on black ice, hit a verge and crashed down a steep embankment, landing upturned in freezing water.

As the car started to quickly fill up, Christine found she was unable to escape from the vehicle. But by luck, Wing Commander Ian Jones, 40, was driving past the scene on a Moray country road with his family when he spotted the car on its roof in the water.

The serviceman, a dentist at RAF Kinloss, had luckily decided to take his wife, Su, and three young children to Spynie Canal to show them where he used to spend time fishing when previously posted to the area ten years ago.

He said: "I noticed the car in the canal. I made a joke 'that's how not to park your car' then I saw the exhaust was still going.

"The car was upside down in the water and I could see the window sill. Then I saw a hand at the glass. I ran back to Su and told her to call 999 as there was someone trapped in the car.

"I'm a climber and had climbing ropes in the back. I ran down to the bank, took the ropes out, kicked off my shoes and got into the water. It was cold.

"I thought the water would come up to my knees, but I sank in up to my waist in mud. I saw one person trapped in the car. She pressed her face up to the window and said 'I'm stuck'."

The back windscreen was smashed and water was seeping into the vehicle. Christine, who had been travelling from her home in Llhanbryde to visit a friend in Lossiemouth when the accident happened on Tuesday morning, initially opened the driver's window but water came flooding in even faster.

She said: "The water was just flowing in. It was freezing and I lost my bearings because I was completely under the water. I couldn't find an escape route. I thought that was the end.

"But I managed to get my arms out of the window and was then pulled free by this guy, who turned out to be Ian. He got me out then tied a rope around me so I wouldn't be swept away.

"He and two other passers by then managed to pull me out of the canal and up the embankment, where they put wrapped me in a sleeping bag and hugged me to keep me warm.

"They are all heroes. The angels were smiling on me. It was just by chance that Ian was in the area, and really lucky he saw the exhaust fumes, otherwise he might just have carried on.

"Then it was fortunate he had a rope and sleeping bag. I feel really lucky.

"But I am still having nightmares. I haven't slept since. Every time I close my eyes I just see myself drowning. I am still getting over the shock. My emotions are quite high."

Saved

Ian said he made his way around the car trying all the doors, without success. When Christine opened the window again he said he grabbed her and pulled her out, then used the rope to pull her to safety.

He added: "By the time I got her out, the window level was in the water. I asked if there was anybody else in the car. My fear was there was a child and I would have to go back."

Fortunately, Christine was the only occupant. She said: "The angels were looking out for me that day. If Ian hadn't been there I don't think I'd have made it."

Two passing servicemen from RAF Lossiemouth also stopped at the scene following the rescue and they helped Ian take Christine to safety and wrap her in a sleeping bag before an ambulance arrived.

She was taken to Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin suffering from hypothermia, but was later discharged.

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