Belfast Telegraph

Dramatic moment Northern Ireland teens clamber to safety after car is swept away

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By Allan Preston

Three teenagers in Co Antrim have been praised for their quick thinking after flood waters left them dangerously stranded and freezing on the roof of their car.

The friends, all aged 19, had been driving yesterday evening through a normally shallow crossing over the River Bush at the Livery Road in Stranocum.

Unknown to the youths, torrential rain the night before had engorged the river, creating an unseen danger for drivers.

As the water levels rose, the passengers had no choice but to climb on to the rooftop.

By 7pm they had managed to call for help, with rescue crews mobilised from Coleraine and Ballymoney along with a specialist rescue team from Belfast.

Maurice Field, the Ballymena district commander for the NI Fire and Rescue Service, said it was a lucky escape.

"The water just killed the electrics in the car," he said.

"They were stuck in the middle of the river while the car was starting to edge away slowly. They had the wisdom to get on the roof and phone 999.

"They were lucky they had their phone with them and they were very calm and sensible."

Rescue crews used a ladder to reach across from the river bank, passing over life jackets and bringing them safely to dry land.

Ambulance crews assessed them for mild hypothermia before they were able to return home.

Ballymoney Ulster Unionist councillor Darryl Wilson said the area can be treacherous, even for those who are familiar with the area.

"If strangers were in the area it could potentially be fatal," he said.

"It's very fortunate they're OK."

"I commend them for their cool heads and knowing what to do in such an emergency. I think it's a lesson to others not to take risks, especially at this time of the year when there's high flood water on the roads."

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