Family Makes Dramatic Escape From Sinking Car - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Family Makes Dramatic Escape From Sinking Car

Published August 22, 2016

Main photo by
Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons

An American family who traveled by car around Iceland had an experience that almost cost them their lives, but by concerted effort and good fortune managed to survive.

Vísir reports that Francisco Calara, his wife Elma and their young son Matthew were traveling by rental car along the Westfjords’ south coast, near Vattarfjörður, last Thursday. Francisco, who was driving, told reporters that he was very tired and must have fallen asleep behind the wheel, because next thing they knew, the car had driven off the road and into the sea.

“I thought we were going to die, because we don’t know how to swim,” he told reporters. “My wife was in the backseat and couldn’t undo the seatbelt on the child seat.”

Opening the doors proved incredibly difficult. Francisco crawled into the back seat in an attempt to help.

“The car was sinking, and it wasn’t possible to open the driver’s side door because of the water pressure,” he said. “There was a small crack in the door on the side where my wife sat. I think due to the adrenaline I was able to kick the door open and get my child out. A moment later, I looked back, and the car was sinking with my wife inside it.”

Francisco was exhausted, and had doubts he would even make it to land. He was able to open the trunk of the car in the hopes of using their luggage as flotation devices, and also in the hopes of giving Elma a way out of the car.

Their child had lost consciousness and began to turn blue. Francisco struck Matthew on his back several times, until finally he coughed up water and began to cry. Shortly thereafter, his wife emerged from the sea. They escaped any serious injury, and were taken by ambulance to Búðardal, where they were provided accommodation.

“The only thing that I want is to get home and get our lives together again,” Francisco told reporters. “I have no words to describe our gratitude to everyone who helped us. We will come back later.”

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