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High water traps woman

May 17, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Rescue officials said a Pennsylvania woman was lucky she wasn't injured when her car became trapped in high water from Antietam Creek on Friday afternoon near Leitersburg.

"We get this every time we get a flood. People think that they can get through here," said Milton Bloom, deputy chief at the Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Department.

At about 4 p.m., Tammy Campbell, 37, was 10 minutes into her 40-minute drive from work to her home in Fort Loudoun, Pa., when she came to the bridge over Antietam Creek in the 21100 block of Leiters Mill Road. She said later she thought she could make it through the creek's water that had swelled over its banks, surrounding the bridge.

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Campbell drove her Chevy Blazer through about 20 yards of water to the bridge, then splashed back into the creek. She said her car began bucking and stalled about midway between the bridge and the edge of the water.

"I guess I underestimated it," she said.

Campbell said a few pickups were able to drive around her, but "I was just watching the water inside the truck. ... It was probably two inches of water inside."

A passerby reported Campbell's situation, according to 911 records. A few minutes later a firefighter waded into the creek and led Campbell from her SUV to the bridge. A neighbor with a tractor pulled the car to dry land.

Bloom said several roads near the creek are prone to flooding. Once, a car in the same spot Campbell stalled was swept several hundred yards down the creek.

Bloom estimated the creek had swelled Friday to about 50 yards across. Conferring with fellow firefighters, he said "This is the worst we've had here in, what, 10 years?"

Washington County Sheriff's Cpl. Todd Kerns said Friday night another vehicle was stuck in the same area, but no more information was immediately available.

Campbell said once she got to shore, "The first thing I did was take my shoes off, dump the water out," Campbell said.

"That's a trip I don't want to go on again."

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