Sat | Nov 27, 2021

Cheating death

Clarendon woman kicks door to safety as car covered in floodwaters

Published:Tuesday | July 6, 2021 | 12:09 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Paulette Williams recounts on Monday the nightmarish ordeal of being trapped in her car in floodwaters along the New Yarmouth-Kemps Hill road in Clarendon a day earlier.
Paulette Williams recounts on Monday the nightmarish ordeal of being trapped in her car in floodwaters along the New Yarmouth-Kemps Hill road in Clarendon a day earlier.
Latoya Kellyghan, nurse at May Pen Hospital, shares the joy she felt when her mother Paulette Williams, a nursing sister at Lionel Town Hospital, arrived home after being trapped in floodwaters associated with Tropical Storm Elsa.
Latoya Kellyghan, nurse at May Pen Hospital, shares the joy she felt when her mother Paulette Williams, a nursing sister at Lionel Town Hospital, arrived home after being trapped in floodwaters associated with Tropical Storm Elsa.
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WESTERN BUREAU: Another person might have died from fear, but Paulette Williams refused to yield to the treacherous flood rains caused by Tropical Storm Elsa that threatened to sweep her away on Sunday. Trapped in her car on the New Yarmouth-Kemps...

WESTERN BUREAU:

Another person might have died from fear, but Paulette Williams refused to yield to the treacherous flood rains caused by Tropical Storm Elsa that threatened to sweep her away on Sunday.

Trapped in her car on the New Yarmouth-Kemps Hill road in Clarendon, the traumatised registered nurse wondered if she would ever see her family again.

The water reached her chest as the automatic doors to the vehicle remained locked. The car drifted in deeper water and she saw no way out.

Williams, a nursing sister at Lionel Town Hospital, had left home around 1:30 p.m. for a 2 o’clock appointment.

“When I drove down the road, it was raining but it was minimal. When I reached three-quarters of the road, I became trapped by water from out of nowhere, in front of my car and behind it,” she told The Gleaner, still badly shaken, as she relived the nightmare on Monday morning.

The water moved her car so quickly, the mother of four said the only thing she could do was to ring her daughter Latoya Kellyghan and cry for help.

“I said, ‘Munchie’! ‘Munchie’! Get one truck. The car a wash weh!” Williams stated, panic still evidenced in her voice.

The next thing she knew was that the water took her phone from her hand as she fought to get out.

“When I realised the door was not opening, I saw my children, and I said, ‘God, a suh mi a guh dead? But I said soon after that, ‘No, I can’t give up like that,” Williams told The Gleaner.

Frantically, she kicked at the door until it gave way, grabbed her handbag, and swam until she crawled to safety.

Nervous wreck

On Monday, she was still a nervous wreck and sought medical attention for her battle scars.

Williams won’t forget the people who also came to her rescue after she managed to escape.

One man tried to retrieve her submerged car, but his truck could not do the job. A cousin of hers with a more powerful truck had better luck.

The nurse, who has saved many lives during her 15-year career in the medical field, said she was unable to sleep Sunday night, haunted by her ordeal.

Her daughter has recovered somewhat, having fainted after receiving the fateful telephone call from her mom.

Kellyghan is relieved that her mother is now safe and remembers how she felt when she reunited with her after the near-tragedy.

“I saw her in the back of the police vehicle and I cried,” she said.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com