A mum and her three children had a “miracle” escape after their car was swept into a swollen river – when two lost workmen dragged them out of the boot.
Mariel Murphy, 38, was driving home after dropping her mother off at a train station when she went through a ford causing her engine to cut out.
Seconds later her three-year-old VW Polo was hit by a powerful torrent of water smashing it into a bridge and trapping her and her three young children inside.
The terrifying accident happened at 6pm on February 14 when Mariel, a photographer, was driving through the ford which crossed the River Swift near their home in Harborough Magna, Rugby, Warks.
Mariel managed to dial 999 and the fire service rushed to rescue her but before they arrived the icy water filled up the car to their chins.
At one terrifying moment, Mariel and her three children, Joseph, six, Hayden, three, and 18-month-old daughter Gia, could only breath by pushing themselves against the roof of the car.
But the family were saved when two workmen who had got lost spotted them and managed to haul them out of hatchback’s boot.
Mariel said: “I started driving through the ford when the car cut out and then we got carried off to the right and into the bridge.
“It was a really strong current so I rang the fire brigade and thought I’d wait.
“But water was getting in and within minutes it had risen to my knees.
“My three children were screaming in the back – the water was nearly up to their chins.
“I didn’t panic at first and had just been trying to reassure my children, but at this point I really started to worry.
“I then looked across and saw two men in a van nearby, but the electrics had cut out and I couldn’t open the windows so I started banging and waving to get their attention.”
Workmen Neal Bliss and Stephen Andrews, both in their 40s, had got lost and broken down after their Sat Nav diverted them off the M1 after the motorway was closed following an accident.
When they heard Mariel’s desperate cries for help they waded through the rising flood water and managed to open the boot of the car which was poking out the water.
Mariel added: “They (the workmen) were just amazing, they were so brave and strong.
“The fire brigade said afterwards they shouldn’t have done it, but I’m just glad they were there to help us.
“It’s a miracle they were there and I’m hugely grateful to them. They saved myself and my three children.”
The family were examined by paramedics but were given the all clear.
Husband Kevin, 41, a managing director of a media planning agency, said: “It doesn’t bare thinking about what could have happened.
“If those two workmen hadn’t broken down or been there Mariel and the children would have been completely submerged in the freezing water.”
A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “Had the car not been a hatchback and had the two men not come to their aid so quickly, the outcome may have been very different.
“Our praise must go to the two men for acting so quickly.”