Advertisement
  1. News

Listen to her 911 call from a submerged car in Tampa with mud, water 'getting up to my neck'

Deputies said 20-year-old Amanda Antonio's quick thinking on the phone with a 911 operator helped rescuers locate her flooded vehicle before it was too late.
Published Jan. 3

TAMPA — Trapped in an upside down car sinking into the mud, the cold water rising up to her chin, her location shrouded in fog, Amanda Nicole Antonio called 911 for help.

She tried to stifle the rising panic in her voice when the dispatcher answered.

It was about 4 a.m. on New Year's Day, and the 20-year-old had no idea where the overturned car had landed on the side of Interstate 4:

"My car is flipped and I can't see anything and there's water getting in the car," the 20-year-old Seffner woman said.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: New Year's rescue: Hillsborough deputies pull woman from sinking car

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday released the recording of her dramatic, 20-minute call to 911. Deputies rescued Antonio early Tuesday, but only because she was able to stay calm and help guide them to her location.

Antonio was driving a 2008 Scion east on I-4, close to the U.S. 301 exit ramp, when she was cut off, lost control and overturned down a steep embankment and into a water-filled ditch, officials said. She was wearing her seat belt at the time of the crash, so she was able to escape with only a few minor bruises and injuries.

Antonio found a shrinking pocket of air between the front driver and passenger seats while she talked to the 911 operator.

In the recording, she couldn't remember the make or model of her boyfriend's two-door sedan. But she did tell the dispatcher that she was traveling east towards Orlando and had left the road somewhere between exit 7 and exit 10.

Antonio can be heard gasping for air as water and mud gurgles into the vehicle throughout the call. Still, she follows the dispatcher's calm instructions and continues to talk until deputies can get to her.

"I don't know what to say, I'm freezing," she said. "It's getting up to my neck. I'm so scared. Please tell them to come faster. Please help me ... My phone's dying, it's at 5 percent."

Then she pulled up her location on Google Maps and told the dispatcher that she was next to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

That may have helped narrow the search down while a sheriff's helicopter and 13 vehicles scoured both sides of I-4 looking for the sinking car.

Meanwhile Antonio tried to escape on her own. She tried to break open a car window but couldn't. She couldn't open a submerged door, either. Not even the car's horn worked.

She asked the 911 operator to call her mother and her boyfriend, relaying their names and phone numbers. When asked how old she is, Antonio told the operator she would turn 21 on Saturday.

"Are you excited about your birthday?," the operator asked.

"Not anymore," Antonio replied.

She told the operator she would soon need to hold her breath.

Then, the faint sound of sirens and deputies yelling could be heard in the background.

Deputy Ryan Cooper spotted the sinking Scion from the interstate and waded into the thick, waist-high mud. He coached Antonio to stay clam, keep talking to 911 and told her that she would soon be rescued.

Then two members of the sheriff's dive team, Deputies Chris Sullivan and Jeremy Pollack, arrived with air tanks. They pried open a car door encased in thick sludge and freed her from the car.

"How's it going?" one chipper deputy could be heard asked Antonio as she was helped to safety.

She was briefly treated at Tampa General Hospital, then resting at home later Tuesday.

Her mother Wanda Guzman told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday that her daughter feared the worst.

"She told me, 'I thought I was going to die,'" Guzman said. "There must have been angels around her."

Contact Anastasia Dawson at adawson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is hoping to secure a $21.8 million federal grant to help pay for a bus rapid transit line connecting downtown St. Petersburg and the beaches. St. Petersburg City  Council approved an interlocal agreement Thursday supporting the project. ALESSANDRA DA PRA | Times
    Pinellas transit officials hope the project will get a federal grant in 2020. However, St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena still oppose it.
  2. Marissa Mowry, 28, sits in a Hillsborough County courtroom court before her sentencing hearing Thursday. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a boy when he was 11-years-old. She was his former nanny, and became pregnant with his child. Photo courtesy of WTVT-Fox 13
    Marissa Mowry was 22 when she first assaulted an 11-year-old boy. Now he’s a teenager raising a son, and she was classified as a sexual predator.
  3. The tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico that’s projected to strengthen as it approaches Florida could put a crimp ― or much worse ― in Tampa Bay’s weekend plans. National Hurricane Center
    The National Weather Service warns that the Gulf of Mexico disturbance could strengthen and bring wind, rain and possibly tornadoes to the bay area.
  4. Pat Frank, at a 2016 candidate debate with then-challenger Kevin Beckner. She won. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
    From school board to state lawmaker to clerk of courts, she just keeps on going, Sue Carlton writes.
  5. Researchers from the University of Central Florida and International innovation company, Imec have developed a camera that uses specific wavelength of light to easily find pythons in habitat where they are typically well camouflaged. 
 Imec
    University of Central Florida researchers worked with Imec to develop the cameras.
  6. Pasco County Sheriff's deputies lead three teenagers from a Wesley Chapel Publix store after responding to reports that the boys had been showing off handguns there in a Snapchat video. PASCO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE  |  Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    The three Pinellas boys were apprehended while they were still walking the aisles of the Wesley Chapel store.
  7. The 59-year-old pastor was arrested Oct. 2 after a young woman told investigators he began abusing her in 2014 when she was 14 and he was senior minister at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park. Orange County Sheriff's Office via AP
    Rev. Bryan Fulwider was released Wednesday night after posting a $700,000 bond.
  8. Sam's Club fulfillment center manager Nick Barbieri explains to a shopper how the new Scan & Go shop works at 5135 S Dale Mabry Highway. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The shuttered store has been reinvented and debuted to the community.
  9. Yogi Goswami
    The Molekule Air Mini is a scaled-down version of its original purifier.
  10. In this image taken from video provided by the Florida Immigrant Coalition, border patrol agents escort a woman to a patrol car on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, at Aventura Hospital in Aventura, Fla. The woman had been detained by border patrol agents when she fell ill. The agent took her to the hospital emergency room for treatment. The presence of immigration authorities is becoming increasingly common at health care facilities around the country, and hospitals are struggling with where to draw the line to protect patients’ rights amid rising immigration enforcement in the Trump administration. (Florida Immigrant Coalition via AP) AP
    Hospitals are struggling with where to draw the line to protect patients’ rights amid rising immigration enforcement in the Trump administration.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement