CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – Three Chesterfield family members were rescued from floodwaters early Sunday morning after flash flooding in Conway Road.
Eighteen-year-old Catherine Ke drove Conway Road every day to and from her Chesterfield High School. But when she was driving around 1 a.m. Sunday, her car began to fill up with water.
“My car started going into it and the engine shut off, but the battery was still in, I was hydroplaning,” she said.
She called her mom, Beth Ke, to come get her. Beth and her son drove to Conway Road, expecting to see just a few inches of water.
“I’ve lived here for 25 years and I know that this area can flood but I thought maybe it was just up to the bottom of her car, maybe she was just stuck and it was just something we were going to have to wade through to push her out,” Beth said.
Catherine said she got out of her car and tried to walk to the part of Conway that wasn’t flooded, where she had just driven through.
“But the current was so strong, I started drifting away from Conway,” Catherine said. “There would be moments where my head started bobbing up and down in the water and I couldn’t stand, so I thought I was going to drown.”
Catherine called 911 and dispatchers were on the phone with her for 50 minutes. She was able to grab onto something sturdy while dispatchers sent authorities with rescue boats to come get her.
“The current was just pulling me and I’m almost laying on my back going through the water until I grabbed onto the tree,” she said. “That tree saved my life.”
The dispatchers told Catherine to flash her phone flashlight so crews could find her. What Catherine didn’t know is that her mom and brother were also getting rescued out of their car a few hundred feet away.
“The water went from about 6 inches to almost 2 feet, enough to hit the front of my car, it was almost like a wave.” Beth said.
Beth and her son found Catherine’s car tilted upward, a light was on inside but Catherine wasn’t there.
“I just remember screaming, my daughter, my daughter is out of the car,” Beth said.
As soon as Beth and her son were rescued into the boat, she could hear her daughter screaming.
“All I could do was hear her screaming ‘help me’ and as a mother that is the worst feeling in the world, to hear your child screaming ‘help me’ and you can’t do anything.”
She said her son, who is a lifeguard and former Boy Scout, was calm through the entire situation. She recalled him telling her that it was a good thing they could hear her screaming, because that meant she was alive.
Catherine, her mom, and brother, were all taken into an ambulance to make sure they were okay. All of them went home that night. Both of their cars were totaled.
Now, Catherine has a message for anyone who may find themselves in the same situation.
“If it ever happens to anyone, I would suggest going out through the window, sitting on top of their car, staying calm and call for help, and don’t get out of the car like I did,” she said.
Catherine turned to TikTok to tell the story of her rescue. With more than 9 million views, she hopes the video got her message out.
In the midst of clinging onto the tree, Catherine’s Michael Kors purse had to be thrown into the rushing water because it was too heavy to continue to hold. Her high school diploma and graduation cap were also damaged in the incident.