A Maryland woman survived a terrifying plunge after a tractor-trailer rammed into her vehicle and threw it over the edge of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Morgan Lake, 22, of Sunderland, Md., plummeted 40 feet into the water just before 8:30 p.m. Friday after her car was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler in the eastbound lanes of the bridge, which links Maryland's Eastern Shore with the rest of the state.
“I saw the sky slow, I saw the land slow, I saw water,” Lake told NBC News’ Peter Alexander. “And then as I saw the water, I clenched and my eyes shut.”
“And I just knew that I was gonna die. I was going down,” Lake said, fighting back tears.
Lake said the impact with the water felt like slamming into concrete. The vehicle was quickly flooded and started sinking to the bottom of the bay.
“I felt like I was drowning. I felt like my body was getting full, full with water. And I didn’t want to go out that way,” Lake said.
Lake, a fitness instructor, climbed out of the vehicle through a shattered window and swam to safety.
“I swam and swam and swam, and as soon as my lips got out of that water, I just took five really deep breaths and gasped for air,” she said.
Lake said she took temporary shelter at one of the bridge pilings.
“I am looking at everyone above the bridge and I yelled, ‘Someone call my mom. Someone please just call my mom,'" Lake said, adding that a nearby civilian then placed an emergency call.
Responders transferred Lake to a local hospital. She was released Saturday from Maryland Shock Trauma, according to The Associated Press.
She sustained relatively minor injuries, including a sprained ankle and elbow.
Authorities recovered her vehicle from the bottom of the bay over the weekend. They are investigating the incident.
The tractor-trailer's driver, Gabor Lovasz of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, was not injured, according to NBC Washington.
A third vehicle was also involved in the accident, but Herbert and Lisa Sutclife of Olney, Md., were uninjured, according to NBC Washington.
First published July 22 2013, 6:52 AM