LAFAYETTE, Colo. (CBS4) – CBS4’s cameras were rolling early Thursday shortly after Dillon Road collapsed near Highway 287 in Boulder County and a driver was trapped in an overturned car in a flooded creek.
Roy Ortiz was trapped in that upside down car for approximately 2 hours before rescue crews worked to get him out.
“At the time we didn’t know that he was in the car still. We just knew that the car was upside down and he was an unaccounted for person,” John Cook with North Metro Fire said. “We went back out to check to see if anybody was in there.”
Cook said at a news conference on Friday that he attended with Ortiz that the rescue crew brought a line from a tow truck and hooked it up to Ortiz’s car and tried to roll the car over so it would be upright to see if anybody was inside.
“We kind of pounded on the bottom of the car and that’s when we heard him return the pounding and we heard (a voice) coming from the car. So we changed our strategy from more of investigative to a rescue,” Cook said.
The crew was able to get the car into a position where they could break a window and they handed Ortiz a lifejacket. But the car began to shift and ended up back on its roof with Ortiz still inside.
“We undid the lock and we were able to open the door,” Cook said.
Water rushed into the car. Cook said it was amazing Ortiz was able to find a small air pocket to breathe.
“For the air to be able to last that long was nothing short of a miracle,” he said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Images Of The Dramatic Rescue Efforts
“I just thanked God for the angels that were sent to me,” Ortiz said. “When I heard those people I was just happy.”
Ortiz said during his nearly 2 hours trapped a couple of times he started to panic.
“I’d start crying and start thinking of my kids,” he said. “I wanted to survive for my kids, my wife, my two little girls, my two little boys.”
He said he was really worried he was going to run out of air.
“The level of the water didn’t go too high so it let me keep my head up,” Ortiz said. “I was fighting for my life.”
Ortiz personally thanked his rescuers at the news conference.