McCordsville driver reacts after near-death ordeal

Tragedy often brings out the best in people and that was what happened in Fishers Thursday.  An SUV hit a slick patch and broke through a fence before sliding into the freezing water below.  Thankfully everyone was okay, thanks to quick thinking and people willing to help.

It is Carrie Mattingly’s worst fear – “For me to actually live this is unbelievable to me,” said Mattingly.

Trapped in a car with her 5-year-old daughter Ava as it was sinking under water. “I can not get images out of my mind already, I just do not know what it is going to be like for her,” said Mattingly.

The two were headed home from the gym when they hit a slick patch on 116th Street in Fishers.  The car started spinning.

“The next thing I know is that we crash through this white fence and we are bumping and bumping and then all of a sudden we come to a stop,” said Mattingly.  “I was like, ‘thank God.”  Then I look down and realize we are in water.”

That water slowly started to invade the Mattingly’s SUV. “It was colder than anything I have ever felt,” said Mattingly.  “Just imagine being submerged in snow I guess.  It was just an unbelievable.  It was breath-taking, it was paralyzing.”

At that moment, Mattingly feared the worst. “I said, ‘that is it, we are doomed.’  No one is going to be able to get in this water,” said Mattingly.

Carrie remembered something she learned on a TV show.  She rolled down the cars windows and told Ava to unbuckle her seatbelt.

“I just kept telling my daughter to stay calm, we are going to be okay, and we are calm,” said Mattingly.  “Then I realized the water was coming in a little bit more quickly, now it is up to my knees, okay now it is up to my waist.  I thought, ‘we have got to get out of here.'”

Carrie and Ava climbed out the drivers side window.  About that time, Jeff Oliver and some co-workers were driving by. “The guy who was driving said that he saw a car in the water, so we turned around and went back to the scene,” said Jeff Oliver.

Oliver ran to the shore, got his work boots off and dove in.  He got about half way, but the water was too cold.  He swam back to where he could touch, then he went back for the two who were stranded. “I don’t know what it takes, I just know you can not sit there and watch someone die,” said Oliver.  “You have got to try and help as much as you can.”

Oliver was able to make it out to Ava.

“I was able to swim and grab her hand and pull her towards me and swim a little more and pull her along until we got to the shore where there were multiple people there that were able to help,” said Oliver.

As Oliver swam out to the car, other people jumped into the water.  People like Ray Rice.  “From when I got there to when the truck sank, it was less than two minutes,” said Rice.

The people in the water made a human chain, they passed the 5-year-old to the bank.

‪”They started swimming towards the shore and they went down and that was when the man in the water started swimming towards them they popped back up and the mom started swimming towards shore,” said Rice.

Jeff Oliver, the man in the water, was having trouble of his own. “I was to the point where I could not move anymore, someone had to assist me out of the water,” said Oliver.

Oliver ended up in the same ambulance as Carrie and Ava Mattingly, but he was still worried about the two. “You know you made it there to the shore, but you are not so sure they are not injured,” said Oliver. Then, a moment Jeff will never forget, the little 5-year-old, pining for her favorite Christmas present her IPOD that she had to leave behind in the sinking SUV.

“That was the first thing that she said,” Oliver.  “Made my day that she was talking and she seemed to be doing pretty good.”

What made the story even sweeter was a life-saving coincidence.  Jeff Oliver knows Carrie Mattingly’s husband.

Jeff Oliver:”Never met his daughter or his wife”

Joe LePage: “Until today?”

Jeff Oliver: “Until today.”

“The fact that it was a friend of my husband’s,” said Mattingly.  “How does that happen?”

Jeff Oliver dove into freezing cold waters to save two people he did not even know at the time.  He risked his life, but he does not accept the hero title. “No, any man would have jumped out into the water to save a family, so I am definitely no hero,” said Oliver.

Oliver said there was only one hero in this ordeal, the woman whose quick thinking paid off and saved two lives.

“That is all I can think about right now, how did we survive that?  How did that happen?  Thank God we did and wow, I need to make it to church every Sunday,” said Mattingly.

Carrie Mattingly has only minor bruises after her brush with death.  She said what happened has changed her forever, it has given her a new appreciation for her family and life in general.

16 comments

  • gr82cu2

    Carrie, I don't know if you will be reading the comments here. I want you to know that I completely relate to what happened to you and your daughter today. I was in a terrible car accident with my 2 boys a long time ago. When I turned to check my youngest son in the back seat I believed him to be dead. It was only a few seconds until I realized he wasn't (he was hurt but recovered thank God) but I could not get the image out of my mind. I could not shake the horror of it all and relived it constantly. As a result of that I began to have constant panic attacks which led to a deep depression that lasted a year until I finally got the help I needed. So please, don't let that happen to you. Get help if you need it to get through this. You were being looked out for and God placed those angels there for you today at just the moment you needed them to help you and your daughter to safety. God bless them and you and your daughter. What a miracle! As far as your fears of what your daughter will remember or if she will continue to be afraid, I can only tell you my experience. My sons had no long lasting effects from it. Kids are very resilient and don't have the fears and worries that we do for them. Just keep an eye on little Ava and if she needs or wants to talk, listen and comfort her. I bet she will be just fine.

  • ClanSmokeJaguar

    I'm glad everyone is alright but hopefully she learned a lesson and that is speed and hazardous road conditions do not mix.

    Exactly how fast was she going to lose control, plow throw some brush, and then that far into the pond?

  • Justice Gohn

    Thank God there were people there to help! What I don't understand is why a mother would risk her and her childs life the day after a blizzard to go to the gym. Maybe she should've been watching Fox 59 news and she would've known that people were asked to stay home and not get out because it was to dangerous!

    • Kingpin

      Justice Gohn:
      You are an absolute moron!! This happened Yesterday (Thursday) NOT the day of the "so-called Blizzard". Yes if it had happened during the snow storm on Wednesday that would be reckless to go out to the gym, especially with a child in the car. The last time I checked yesterday it had stopped snowing since late Wednesday night!!. Who on Fox59 said people should stay home yesterday? So should everyone have taken the day off yesterday because it was the day after a snowstorm? If I were you I'd stay inside and not drive anywhere until Spring 2013.

      • ClanSmokeJaguar

        "kingpin" you just made yourself look the fool. "Justice" clearly stated "risk her and her childs life the day after a blizzard"

        And after such snow dumps it takes time to get the roads in good shape.

  • ImnotGaGa

    She was at the "gym", husbands friend "just happens by", friend remarks "I have never seen her before in my life". I'll bet this one gets ugly real fast.

    • DAT

      You May NOT be GaGa but YOU ARE AN ASS!!! You are talking about a remarkable woman and her 5 year old daughter! They could have drowned and you make ridiculous remarks. YOU are what is wrong with the world today!!!

  • sunnyso

    I drove on that same road on the same day and it looked completely clear and had been clear for quite awhile. The road crews did an awesome job. I heard that it may have been caused by a small patch of black ice. Regardless, the beautiful thing about this is that there are people that didn't speculate on unnecessary details(who cares where the mother and child had been) and instead focused on saving lives while risking their own. I would like to see a photo of the heroic people involved. Thank God everyone was ok!

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