‘She wasn’t breathing and my mind just shut down’
A ROAD trip to a birthday party ended in the most terrifying experience of Erica Morris' life as she pulled her lifeless 3-year-old daughter from a upside-down vehicle submerged in Running Creek at Woolooga on Saturday morning.
The Gladstone mother was driving south along Woolooga Brooweena Rd with her two young daughters and her friend on their way to Deception Bay when they rounded the bend to the Running Creek Bridge.
Ms Morris was driving slowly around the corner, wary of the fog and any animals on the road.
"As we were coming down the hill, I went to slow down a bit more because I thought we'd pick up a bit of speed coming down towards that bridge," Ms Morris said.
As she braked, the Mitsubishi Magna's rear wheels began to slide out.
"I started going sideways towards the bridge, and I tried to correct it and straighten up, and as I've corrected it my front passenger wheel hit the edge of the bridge, and we've just flipped and landed in the water."
The car quickly submerged as Ms Morris and her friend freed themselves.
As her friend grabbed 5-year-old Alexiah from the back passenger side, Ms Morris tried to open 3-year-old Syndal's door, only to find it jammed shut.
"I was crying and screaming when I couldn't get the door open," Ms Morris said.
She swam around to reach Syndal through the passenger side door.
With zero visibility underwater, Ms Morris had to find and release Syndal's seatbelt by feel.
"It wouldn't come undone when I first tried, so I had to come back up and go back down," Ms Morris said.
"Each time that I came up for air, all that was going through my head was, 'Oh my god, she's going to die, she's going to die because it's taking me so long to get her out.'
"Then I managed to get it undone so I just grabbed what I could feel of Syndal and I yanked her out of the car straight away and straight up to the surface."
"And then when I got her out, her lips were starting to go blue, she was not breathing and my mind just shut down."
With no CPR training, Ms Morris and her friend started trying to revive Syndal while they were still in the creek.
"I started blowing in her mouth, and then I just threw her over my shoulder and started whacking her back until the water came up," Ms Morris said.
"It was just instinct.
"I didn't realise she'd started breathing until we were halfway to the shore and she whimpered."
She said it was the most amazing sound she had ever heard.
Syndal and Alexiah were released from hospital on Sunday, and Ms Morris said they had come out of the crash surprisingly well.
Lexi ended up with bruising, a little bit of whiplash and cuts to the face, but it's all superficial.
Syndal had water on her lungs, and there were cuts to her eyebrow and eyelid and along the bottom of her eye as well, so it caused her eye to swell up quite large.
Now back home in Gladstone after the girls were released from hospital, Ms Morris said the road and bridge had to be fixed.
"They need barriers on that bridge, and they need more warning," she said.
"If that's happened before, why wasn't it fixed to begin with?"
Ms Morris' Google Maps GPS had directed her off the Bruce Hwy, and other GPS users have reported the same issue.
"When you're not a local and this is where the GPS keeps sending you, we're not going to know the road conditions," she said.
She said she doesn't want anyone to suffer the same experience.
"It was the most terrifying thing I've done and I don't want anyone to go over there and end up dying," she said.
Ms Morris plans to sign up for a CPR course in the next few weeks.