Flood victim rescued after clinging to tree for 2 1/2 hours in Warren County

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 6:28 PM CDT
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WARREN COUNTY (KMOV) -- Shelly Bangert was driving to work on Highway J in Warren County on the morning of July 26. She said it was dark, raining hard and that she hadn’t seen water over the roadway until she hit a wall of water just south of the Big River.

“It was like hitting a brick wall. And I immediately tried to put it into reverse and I started floating,” she said.

Bangert said her Chevy Traverse started filling with water and her front doors wouldn’t open because of the pressure from the water.

“Panic struck me that I was going to drown in my car,” she said.

She called her husband and told him to call 911 and tell them what happened and where she was at.

Bangert said the SUV floated off the roadway and over near a grove of trees. She said she climbed into the back seat and used her legs to push open a door and then slipped out. She grabbed a branch just before the vehicle disappeared under the water.

The Wright City Fire Protection District was the first to get the call and rush to the scene.

“Myself and my partner, we suited up in our dry suits and walked out to her to at least make verbal contact with her,” said Capt. Scott Sateia.

But the water was too deep and too swift, making a rescue effort by walking through the water too dangerous.

Meanwhile, Bangert called 911 and found a friendly voice who helped her make it through the long ordeal.

“A wonderful woman named Nicole who was on the phone with me for an hour-and-a-half of my adventure,” said Bangert.

Eventually, members of the Warrenton Fire Protection District arrived with an inflatable boat and they, along with firefighters with the Winfield-Foley Fire Protection District, rescued Bangert.

The agencies involved in the rescue were the Wright City Fire Protection District, Warrenton Fire Protection District, Winfield-Foley Fire Protection District, Lincoln County Fire Protection District, Hawk Point Fire Protection District, Lincoln County Ambulance District and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

“There’s no better feeling than to be able to go out there and help those that are in need,” said Wright City Firefighter Matt Sanders.

Bangert says her heart is full of gratitude and appreciation for the first responders who came to her aid.

“Everybody needs to take a look and thank them for everything they do because they saved mine and I can’t be more thankful to all of them that played a part in it,” she said.