10 years later: Chesterfield woman remembers near-drowning during Gaston

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Sandy Manley remembers Gaston as if it were yesterday. For more than an hour, her life hung in the balance. Sandy's car had been swept nearly 200 yards off of Pinetta Drive by raging flood waters.

"I can't scream, Help me, Help me! Help me please God help me… I don't want to die like this," Manley told 911 dispatchers while trapped her car.

In a matter of minutes, her car filled up with water, forcing her to the very back above the rear seats.

Thanks to Major David Stone and other Chesterfield Police officers, Sandy would live to see many more days, months, and years.

With a small laser pen, she was able to get the attention of neighbors who told officers that she was still alive and needed help.

"He told me to back up and smash the window, Major Stone, and pull me out," Manley said.

"About the time that she and I jumped off of the car to swim out to where the rope was, the vehicle completely filled with water and washed out from underneath us," said Major David Stone.

While rescue crews came to Sandy's aid, miles away in another section of the county, rescue crews raced to Falling Creek Apartments - water in the creek spilled out of the banks, washing away two apartment buildings that used to stand where a playground now sits.

Lieutenant Joe Harvey and Lieutenant Bill Jeffords were among the first crews to arrive to Falling Creek Apartments.

"It was unbelievable. In my career, I had never seen anything of the magnitude of the flooding that was going on," Lieutenant Joe Harvey said.

"We had folks that were hanging out of the windows, some of them looked like they were getting ready to jump or throw their kids to some other folks who were standing close to the water's edge," Lieutenant Bill Jeffords said.

The usually shallow Falling Creek overflowed, forcing fire crews to use ladder trucks to get residents to safety.

Luckily, they were able to get everyone out without anyone harmed. As for Sandy, she remains forever grateful to Major Stone, who helped her when she though all was lost.

"I get up every morning and I thank God every morning when I wake up, you gave me another one, thank you," Manley said.

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