Little did Kristy Irby realize when she left her home with 2 ½ year old daughter Alley on Tuesday, that she would soon be submerged in her vehicle, begging God to save their lives.
The near tragic event began as Kristy drove down the narrow country road in Pelahatchie, Mississippi. While speaking on the phone with her husband, a young deer suddenly sprang out from the dense forest and on to the slippery roadway directly in front of her car.
The young mom instinctively swerved away from the deer while jamming on her brakes. This caused her to lose traction and send her car skidding across the road and into the swollen creek below. The creek normally registers no more than a few feet deep, but after recent torrential rains saturated the county it had become a perilous swirling river.
Within seconds a portion of Kristy’s auto was quickly submerged as water poured through the open air vents. Still holding on to the phone she shouts to her husband “We’re in the water,” as the raging current forces the vehicle downstream.
Realizing she had only a few minutes at best to get out of the closed vehicle before it sank, Kristy began frantically pounding on the window hoping to either break the glass or somehow force the window open.
“I was trying to bust out the windows in the car, and I couldn’t bust them for anything. I was kicking and punching, and I was praying and begging God, ‘You’re the only one who can save us,’” she said.
As soon has she finished asking God to intervene, the driver’s side window miraculously rolled down on its own.
However, mother and daughter were still in grave danger. “I’ve got about an inch of air and I have one leg out of the window and I say, ‘Alley, you’ve got to hold your breath, baby. We’re going to have to swim,’” Kristy said. “I see her face and she’s so scared, and I’m thinking, ‘God, you’ve got to do something,’ and the current is pulling us.”
Moving swiftly with the current and holding tightly to Alley, Kristy went around a bend in the creek and hit a tree. She quickly wrapped her legs around the massive bark and positioned herself to where she could hold Alley high enough on her chest and out of the frigid water.
Meanwhile, the current had swept Kristy’s car out of view from the road. However, divine intervention isn’t always so obvious, in that a Good Samaritan at just the exact moment noticed Kristy’s partly submerged auto, barely visible from the road, swiftly moving downstream.
She called 911 and waited by the side of the road. When first responders arrived, though the car had disappeared from view, the Good Samaritan was able to point them to where the car had been.
Officer Shane Gibson was the first on the scene and quickly pieced together the direction of where the auto had floated and without hesitation dove into the icy waters. The current carried him quickly to the car and slammed him into the side. He could hear Kristy screaming, “Help, we’re drowning.”
“I didn’t think anything about it. It sounds stupid, but when you hear a woman screaming that they’re drowning and you’re looking at a car in the water, you’re not thinking about anything, you’re going in,” Gibson said.
After checking out the partly submerged auto, Gibson realized that the plea was coming from around the curve in the creek, where he allowed the current to carry him to where Kristy and daughter Alley had been clinging to the tree.
“I was coming toward them, and went under. When my head popped up, I could see the baby, and her eyes were huge, and I don’t know why but I said, ‘Hey punkin,'” Gibson said. “And I’m thinking if I miss this tree limb, they’re going to find me and these people in Scott County.”
Gibson said he was glad he was there to help, but that Kristy was the one who gets the credit.
“She got her baby out of the car, out that window, held on to that baby while she’s doing 50 miles an hour down that creek current,” he said. “She was able to grab a tree limb, and was holding on to it with one hand and the baby with the other. The mom, if you want a hero, that’s the hero. That woman’s tough.”