AFFTON, MO (KTVI) - A mother spoke to FOX2 News, Sunday, about the near-tragedy that could have killed her young family: she and her three small children were trapped inside their SUV, after sliding into the icy, River Des Peres, east of Chippewa-Watson around 9:00 Saturday morning.
Heather Marshall, 24, of Affton, said her daughter, Gillian, 5, was afraid to drive by the river now; the girl feared they`d slide into the water again.
Marshall said Gillian could remember the screams of her little sister and brother: Miley, 2, and Jesse, 6 months. They were so scared.
"They were screaming. The only thing I can remember is hearing my kids screaming. It `s the worst sound I`ve ever heard in my life," Marshall said.
She said s a short span of roadway over the river iced over, with so-called
"black ice" she couldn`t see; her SUV spun off the pavement and started sliding in the snow-covered grass; only the river stopped them.
She they actually slid down the river bank backwards; she turned around and grabbed her 5 year old daughter, just before they hit the water.
"I pulled my 5 and ½ year old further from the door so if we did hit the impact wouldn`t hurt her so bad. As soon as I grabbed them I said, 'I love you. Hang on.' We flipped after that," Marshall said.
The SUV ended up on its side, with the passenger side submerged in the shallow river.
"Thank God for the drought," Marshall said.
She said she stood up inside the SUV, on the door panel; spitting shattered glass, she grabbed her phone out of the water, and started calling, texting for help.
"There was a man walking with his 2 dogs who just ran into the water with no safety for his own life; just ran in the water, "Are you ok. Are you ok?'' Marshall said.
2 police officers and firefighter also jumped into the water, pulling her children out through the upright, rear driver`s side door; knocking out the windshield to get to her.
"My kids are my life. I would die for them. Yesterday I almost did," Marshall said, breaking down in tears. "It chokes me up that they`re alive because I don`t know what I`d do if I lost them."
Seeing CD`s and other belongings frozen into the water was both eery and heartbreaking, Sunday.
Marshall said she couldn`t afford to replace her `01 Explorer, which was paid for.
She`d like to thank the men who rescued her family. She`s like to see safety improvements along River Des Peres Boulevard.
"I can`t push that issue enough. There`s so much about gun safety. We need guard rails," Marshall said.
People have died when cars have gone into the river.
City leaders have applied for federal funds for road and safety improvements along that section of the river, but haven't gotten them.
The St. Louis City Streets Director said such improvements would be part of the South County Connector project, once approved.
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For More On Story: Car Runs Off Road Into River Des Peres