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Ind. mother rescues girls as car sinks into pond

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[January 09, 2009]  LEESVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- A quick-thinking woman put her lifeguard experience to good use, saving herself and her two small daughters after their car slid off a road into a deep, frigid pond.

"The car was submerged to the point where only about a foot of it was showing," Lawrence County chief deputy Tony Siedl said after Wednesday's accident in a rural area in southern Indiana. "It is hard to keep your wits about you and not panic in this type of situation."

Keep her wits is exactly what Kortni Peek did.

Peek, 26, was about a half-mile from home when she lost control of the car on a sharp curve with her daughters -- 8-month-old Maggie and 2-year-old Ella Rose -- inside.

Ella Rose was perplexed because their "car was swimming," and infant Maggie seemed to sense her mother's fear, Peek told The Times-Mail of Bedford.

"I had been a lifeguard, so I know the severity of the situation and the difficulty of getting out of water," Peek said. "I just knew we weren't going to have long to get out."

As the car was sinking, Peek said, she was able to free the girls from their car seats and get them out the driver's side window. She estimated the water was about 8 feet deep.

"I was worried the girls were getting too much water and dove under to keep them above," she said. When she got to the shore, Peek had to toss them onto land because of the steep bank.

Peek took the girls to a nearby house, where Debbie Hall helped them into dry clothes.

"It's pretty terrifying to go to the door and see a mother and her two young children drenched," Hall said. The girls were later checked by a doctor and found to be OK. Meanwhile, authorities got a call about the submerged car and rushed to the scene before they found out the occupants were safe.

Peek said she had never been so scared in her life.

"Looking back, it seemed like it was in slow motion," Peek said. "But we really didn't have that much time."

"I knew I couldn't make it if I didn't save both of them."


Information from: The Times-Mail, http://www.tmnews.com/

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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