Scott Swinford was driving through Essex on Sunday with his eight-year-old son, six-year-old niece and four-year-old nephew when they were stranded by rising floodwaters. Friends Hannah King and Emma Burles waded into the flood to help pull the children through the SUV's open windows.
"A lot of people were standing around at first but I don't think they realized how serious the situation was. It's such a crazy thing to happen," Burles told The Guardian. "When I saw there were three children inside I think my mother's instinct kicked in. At first the children were calm but when the water came up to their legs they started to get scared. They were really cold, the girl's lips were blue."
Three young men watching the flood joined in the rescue. Once the children were free, Swinford escaped. Shortly after everyone exited, the SUV bobbed down into the water, almost completely submerged.
Swinford told The Guardian his vehicle is seven feet high and that he has driven through flood conditions without problems in the past. The current was stronger this time, and as soon as he tried to back away, the water lifted the vehicle off its tires. Swinford said he was grateful to all of those who helped.
"I just want to say to everyone who helped us – a big thank you." Swinford told The Guardian.