Local News

Woman says faith helped her hold on until rescued from pond

Posted July 23, 2012

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— A Columbus County woman who mistakenly drove her SUV into a pond near Lumberton last week said Monday that she prayed and sang to pass the time until someone finally heard her cries for help.

Margaret Simmons, 84, traveled from her home in Evergreen last Wednesday to Lumberton to deliver a birthday cake to her brother-in-law. On her way home, she found herself on a dead-end road after checking out a rural paving project near Interstate 74, and when she tried to turn around, her Jeep Cherokee ended up in a pond.

"I was frightened when I saw where I was going because I didn't know there was a pond there," Simmons said. "I went off (the road) and went that way, and I said, 'Oh my God.'"

She frantically tried to call her niece and then 911, but the water was already chest high and rising rapidly. So, she tossed the phone and gathered her strength to kick open the driver's door.

"I was just hollering, telling him, 'Lord, I can't stay in here and drown now, Lord,'" she said. "He gave me the strength that I did not have."

Once she escaped the submerged vehicle, she scrambled onto its roof. There, Simmons stopping hollering at God and began yelling for help.

Hours passed, but no one could see her through the brush surrounding the pond.

Margaret Britt Simmons, Lumberton pond woman 'God was with me,' says woman after 30 hours atop submerged Jeep

"There was so much traffic, you had to wait in between because of the sound,” she said. "I'd cry a while, talk a while and sing 'How Great Thou Art.'"

When night fell, Simmons was still searching for help.

"The stars were shining so pretty on Wednesday night, and you could see the clouds moving past," she said. "I said, 'Lord, please don't send no rain. If you do, we'll go deeper down, and I won't be safe.'"

No rain came, but no rescue either.

On Thursday, she tried a little ingenuity to test how deep the water was in the pond.

"I took off my bra and tied it to the rail on the back and said, 'I'm going to hold on to that and slide off down onto the trailer hook,'" she said.

She couldn't reach the bottom of the pond, so she pulled herself back up and spent a second day on top of her Jeep under a scorching sun. She even used her shoes to scoop water out of the pond to try to cool the roof down.

"I blistered my butt end sitting up there," she said with a laugh. "It was a miserable time."

Margaret Britt Simmons, Lumberton pond woman Web only: Woman recounts pond ordeal

A couple who live nearby finally heard Simmons screaming for help at about 8 p.m. Thursday – more than 30 hours after she drove into the pond.

A helicopter circled overhead a short time later, and Simmons said she thought it was going to pluck her off the Jeep. Then, a rescue crew came on the ground with a tow rope.

"I said, 'Sir, are you going to hook that to this car and pull it out while I'm still on top of it?'" she said, adding that her rescuers began to laugh. "I thought he was going to roll over in that water when I said that."

Sunburned, dehydrated with suffering from badly pulled muscles from clambering over her car, she was finally back on dry land.

β€œI just said, 'Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord.' What a wonderful Lord we have that he watched over me," she said.

Simmons said the only thing that scared her during the ordeal was a large creature that circled her Jeep in the pond. She said she doesn't know if it was an eel, a large catfish or something else.

When her children asked her why she wasn't scared to spend the night alone outside, she said she wasn't really by herself.

"I had God right here with me," she said.

21 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • Nope Jul 24, 6:20 p.m.

    "Why do some always feel they have to comment negatively when God is mentioned in a story? John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth."
    zacksmill

    Because the pontification in these comments is annoyingeth.

  • zacksmill Jul 24, 4:34 p.m.

    Purry, that particular diety is pretty fickle and parsimonious with his "mercy" I have found.
    Thrall-Voljin 2012

    Why do some always feel they have to comment negatively when God is mentioned in a story? John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

  • eb2cents Jul 24, 2:26 p.m.

    I agree Tony - I was shocked they let mine go through when I'm practically begging to keep her (and other challenged drivers) off the road! I'm not against calling it a miracle, but let's use some common sense too -- some folks need not be driving!!

  • Tony Snark Jul 24, 1:32 p.m.

    WRAL censors posts asking relevant questions unless they say this was a miracle.

  • val7277 Jul 24, 1:11 p.m.

    What a wonderful article... Happy to see Wral post such a positive article about faith,in the mist of all death and robberies articles going onπŸ˜ƒπŸ‘πŸ™

  • eb2cents Jul 24, 11:43 a.m.

    As I suspected - this was on this website last week: It wasn't immediately clear if Margaret Britt Simmons, 84, had been found. An alert for her was sent earlier Thursday. Developed in 2007, the Silver Alert system quickly notifies the public about missing endangered adults who suffer from dementia or other cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer's disease. PLEASE stop driving if you're (or a loved one) is impaired in this way! My Mom had to stop driving 10 years ago for the same reason - we had to have a doctor take her keys away - for everyone's safety!

  • whats happening Jul 24, 11:25 a.m.

    What a wonderful story and a happy ending! She knew who to call on... :)

  • Ms.Manda Jul 24, 11:11 a.m.

    Am I the only one that thought she could have swam to land?? Unless obviously she didn't know how to swim, that's another story. But i just don't understand how fast and how far out her car was in that pond that she couldn't have floated or dog paddled to land.

  • Frank Downtown Jul 24, 10:11 a.m.

    Too old to be driving!

  • luvstoQ Jul 24, 10:00 a.m.

    She is one more spunky little lady. She sure had her wits about her to endure that long, then make that "come back" to her rescuers. I had to laugh. Hope I have that much going for me when/if I reach her age - especially the things she did to pass the time and make her waiting more endurable. So happy for her.

More...