Saskatoon woman whose car plunged into river recounts escape
Published Tuesday, January 7, 2014 9:31PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 8, 2014 1:37PM CST
Breanna Pegg thought she was going to die.
The 23-year-old Saskatoon woman’s car ramped over a guardrail on the city’s Circle Drive Bridge Dec. 30 and plunged 13 metres into the South Saskatchewan River.
“‘Oh my God, I’m going into the river. I’m going to die,’” Pegg told CTV in an exclusive interview, recalling what went through her mind as her vehicle slid along the guardrail and dropped.
“I didn’t think I’d be okay.”
Pegg’s vehicle landed on the ice and did not immediately sink into the river. She first tried opening the car’s windows to escape, but the windows didn’t work. She then tried pushing out the front windshield, which had been shattered, with her hands.
“The glass looked so shattered. It looked like if you would have just tapped it, it would break apart,” she said. But the glass was too strong.
“I tried hitting it with my hands but that still didn’t work.”
She remained calm.
“I was so relieved to be alive I wasn’t panicking,” she said.
Pegg moved between the front driver and passenger seats and began kicking the windshield. She was able to eventually kick out a hole large enough to crawl through.
“I sat on the hood of my car for a little bit until the hood of the car started to slowly go down into the water,” she said. “I didn’t want to go into the water because you hear all these stories about people who fall through the ice and they die because they can’t get out of the water. They can’t pull themselves onto the ice.”
She crawled to the roof of the vehicle as the hood became submerged, but was quickly forced to enter the water as the entire vehicle sank.
“Eventually my car sank. It went down Titanic-style. The whole front end sank, then it was vertical, then it sank vertically into the water.”
Pegg was forced to swim because the vehicle had broken all the ice around her. She was able to reach a small sheet of ice and pull herself up onto her stomach. She then crawled along several sections of broken ice before reaching a sturdier section.
She remained on her stomach even while on the solid ice as she didn’t want to take any chances.
“I stayed on my stomach because I didn’t want to stand up and fall through the ice,” she said. “My shoulder was so sore and I was so cold that I really wanted to stand up and walk.”
Pegg only sustained a broken collar bone in the incident and she was able to walk up the river bank with support from a police officer and StarPhoenix photographer. The two had reached the ice as Pegg crawled to the river’s edge.
Pegg doesn’t remember exactly what happened before ramping over the railing, but she recalled most motorists on the bridge travelling below the speed limit. She wouldn’t have ramped into the river if the snow had been cleared, she said.
She was relieved to hear the City of Saskatoon is now clearing snow along bridge railings following her accident.
“That makes me feel awesome,” she said. “That would have been a totally different accident if I would have just hit a barricade.”
She would not say whether or not she has plans to take legal action against the city.
LISTEN TO BREANNA PEGG'S FULL ACCOUNT OF THE ACCIDENT HERE:
The Circle Drive North Bridge, like all bridges in the city, are in the middle of perfect conditions for slick roads.