“We survived because of the Life 360 app. You have 30 to 120 seconds to get out of the car when it’s in the water. You don’t have time to call 911. I wasted time.”
A woman is crediting a popular app for saving her and her granddaughter’s lives after an incident that could have had ended much worse.
Pamela Dennis said she and her 4-year-old granddaughter had picked up a puppy in Lake Charles and were driving back home to Vinton when the puppy jumped to Dennis’ feet while she was driving.
The puppy was blocking her brakes. As they reached exit 8 on I-10 to get home, Dennis said she glanced down to move him and just as she did, the car veered off the interstate down the embankment into a canal.
“The water was really deep,” she recalled. “We sank really fast.”
As the water was rushing in, Dennis said she tried to call 911, while also trying to get her granddaughter out of her car seat.
Dennis said she and four close family members all downloaded the Life 360 app, which sent an alert to her family when the accident happened.
Dennis said her two daughters noticed the alert and began making calls. She said her oldest daughter contacted Vinton Police who had two officers a mile away.
“We survived because of the app,” Dennis said. “I did everything wrong. You have 30 to 120 seconds to get out of the car when it’s in the water. You don’t have time to call 911. I wasted time. The windows wouldn’t roll down because the electrical system shorted out.”
The officers jumped in the canal and helped get the puppy and her granddaughter out of the vehicle. From that point, the situation took a turn.
“Before I could get out of the car, it went completely under the water,” Dennis said. “I broke my ankles trying to kick the window open to get out. My lungs were on fire. I couldn’t hold my breath for much longer.”
After getting the young girl to safety, the officers were able to bust the sunroof open and get Dennis out safely. She said the 911 call she placed went through but the first responders arrived 10 minutes after everyone was safely rescued.
“If it wouldn’t have been for that Life 360 app, they would’ve been recovering bodies out of the water,” she said. “My family acted really fast.”
Five months after the accident, Dennis said she remembers it as a chaotic time. She said her granddaughter, who is now five years old, remembers that day as well.
“It was so loud in the car,” said the grandmother. “The water was rushing in really fast and my granddaughter was screaming and the dog was barking. She (granddaughter) still talks about the dog swimming in the water. That calmed her down at the time.”
Following the accident, Dennis said she spent 10 weeks in a cast and another couple of weeks in a non-weight-bearing boot.
“For 12 weeks, I was basically helpless in the house,” she recalled. “It was terrible.”
Dennis mentioned that there have been other instances where people have drowned in their cars. A woman from Lake Charles drowned in her car near Sulphur in November. Plus, there was a case where two teens died in Ascension Parish after their car crashed into a pond near Bayou Manchac in June.
“Looking back on it now, I realized we all would’ve drowned. How many people can say they have an app on their phone that can save their life,” said Dennis.