Spirit of St. Louis – Pick Your Charity, Pick Your Car

Mother rescues herself, toddler son after SUV crashes into pond

PACIFIC, MO – Firefighters call an expectant mother in Franklin County a hero after she saves herself and her 2-year-old son from their SUV as it was sinking into a frigid pond, Wednesday morning.

Firefighters and passersby’s, including her husband got to the scene saw the SUV, and thought she, her son were trapped in it.  Her husband was among those who got into the water to rescue them.

But they were already out and warming up in a nearby home.

“All day I just start crying out of nowhere.  I think if this would have been any worse,” Heather Vaden told Fox2/News 11 about six hours after the incident.

She’d swerved to miss an animal, possibly a dog, on Calvey Creek Road just outside of Pacific in the Robertsville area.  She crashed through a fence and rolled into a pond around 7:15 Wednesday morning.  Though there was panic in her heart, her mind was clear:  get out of their sinking SUV.

“As soon as we hit the water I got my seatbelt off. I got him out of his car seat,” she said.

She looked briefly for her cell phone to call her husband for help and then for a tire iron or anything to break out the rear window for their escape.

Water was halfway up the car hood and had covered the front floor, she said.

About 5 kicks from her boots finally did the trick.  They climbed out.  She swam through the frigid water trying to hold up her son, not realizing her arm was broken until they made it to the shore.

“Once that window wasn’t coming out the first time I was like, ‘if we don’t get out I’m not going to be able sit there and watch him go down.  So, that’s when I knew I was going to have do something,” she said fighting tears.  “That’s when I just kept kicking.”

“Her actions this morning…she’s obviously thought of something of this before and knew how to react because her reactions this morning were right on and that’s what saved herself and the infant,” said Battalion Chief Gary Graf of the Pacific Fire Protection District.

“We are so thankful,” Vaden said.