‘I thought I was gonna die’: Student shares mistake of driving around barricade

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EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNW) – A recent high school graduate in Emporia is sharing her mistake and the lessons she learned after driving around a flood barricade causing her car to be swept away by flood waters.

Apryl Salendar’s car is now covered in mud inside and out and has severe water damage. It’s a reminder of what she called the scariest moments of her life.

“I thought I was gone,” Salendar said. “I thought I was gonna die.”

On Thursday, Salendar was driving back from a senior trip to Florida when she decided to take a back road to try to get home faster. 

She came up to Road 140 and Road J where there were barricades, but she said one of them was pushed to the side. So, she drove through anyway. 

“I hit water,” said Salendar. “Whenever I stopped, it swept me off.”

Salendar’s car started spinning and water surrounded it on all sides. 

The 19 year old then did what she said she learned from a video in school; got on the roof of her car. 

“I crawled out of my window and called 911,” said Salendar. “Then, my phone ended up dying after that.”

Rescuers were able to ping her location from her cell phone. Salendar screamed out to them when she saw flash lights searching nearby. 

Officials said the car was swept away by several feet of water. 

Road 140 is still closed because of flooding even several days later. 

Emporia Fire Department officials said this needs to serve as a lesson to other drivers. 

“Over half of flood-related deaths are from people who go into flood water or are swept by flood water,” said Ryan Conley, Emporia Fire Department battalion chief. “Don’t drive around [the barricades]. They’re there for a reason. You will get a citation or worse. You could get sept away by swift water.”

Salendar wants others to learn from her mistake. 

“Don’t do it,” Salendar said. “It’s not worth it. You could lose your life.”

Salendar was given a citation from deputies. She said she deserves that punishment. 

Officials said anyone who is caught driving around the flood barricades will be given a citation. 

Several roads in Lyon County are still closed because of flooding. To see an updated list of those roads, visit the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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