Essex floods force family to be rescued from sinking car
A family had to be rescued from their sinking car after it became trapped in flood water as it was being driven under a railway bridge in Essex.
The Mitsubishi Pajero, driven by Scott Swinford, 30, of Southend, who had three children on board, was hit by the rising waters on Spa Road, Hockley.
"As I put the car into reverse the current of the floodwater just lifted us further in," Mr Swinford said.
Heavy flooding caused major disruption in south Essex throughout Saturday.
Essex Fire and Rescue dealt with more than 300 calls for help as the result of floods.
Mr Swinford was returning from Rayleigh Weir with his eight-year-old son Reece, his niece Jessica, 6, and four-year-old nephew Alfie.
The group was rescued by friends Hannah King and Emma Burles, from Hockley, and three boys who had gone to watch the floods.
Ms King, 22, said: "The water just swept the car along. We saw there was young children in the back and then a little girl stuck her head out of the window - that was it, we just swam in as we knew the car was going to sink.
"The first panic was we couldn't get the car doors open because of the water pressure on them and the windows were only half open, it was just awful."
The children were passed from the vehicle to three boys who also waded into the 6ft (1.8m) floodwater to help with the rescue. Mr Swinford was then helped out of the vehicle.
He said: "My 4x4 is like a monster truck, stands about 7ft (2.2m) high and is fitted with a snorkel exhaust. We'd already driven through some flooding, but as I went into this I thought 'It's deep' so put the car into reverse.
"I thought the motion of the wheels would drag us out, but we just started sinking. The water was coming in through the floor, air vents and windows."
The rescue party was later given shelter at the nearby Lime Court sheltered housing scheme.
Mr Swinford eventually recovered his vehicle by tow truck about 23:30 BST when the water had subsided to just a few inches.
"I want to say a big thankyou to everybody who helped us," he said.
The BBC Weather Centre reported 2.3in (59mm) of rain fell across the south of Essex on Saturday, some of the highest rainfall in the country.