UPDATE: WNDU photographer's SUV overturns on flooded road
Eric Walton, our most senior photographer, was involved in a terrifying accident early Tuesday morning.
His SUV overturned on a flooded portion of Ireland Road near Growing Kids Learning Center, temporarily trapping him inside the vehicle.
"All of a sudden, I realized there are two or three cars all abandoned by the entrance way," Walton said. "So I thought, this isn't a good idea and started to turn around. As I start to turn around, the car lifted. It was a nice little boat ride for about a minute or so and sort of hung up on one of those rails over there."
Eric called 911 once water started to come up through the floorboards.
"I did not think about opening the car door immediately to equalize the pressure. I looked around and I don't have anything in the front seat that would break [the window]. [The 911 operator] said I could use my keys. I tried that and that didn't work. So I laid down across the seat and tried to kick it open. That wasn't working and they're like, oh are you out yet? No!"
Eric made his way to the back of the news car where he had at tripod. He had to use a tripod handle in order to break a window and escape to safety.
"There is not a lot of weight to this thing but I have no other options and just start swinging like an idiot," he said.
But the ordeal didn't stop there. Water started pouring into the car and Eric was able to open the door and get on the roof.
"I go to the top of the car and realize it was tilting and was going to turn over and sink at the same time," Eric said. "That's when I told the guy, I'm out. I'm on the roof. It's sinking. Then I jumped in the water."
Another man trapped in the water across the way yelled for Eric to swim to a telephone pole 10 or 20 feet away. However, on Ireland Road, Eric could not touch the bottom of the ground because the water was so deep.
"You could not see the sign [on the telephone pole]," Eric said. "That was completely covered in water. I'm about 5'10 so I was much further up than that."
And as waterlogged as the car and Eric were when the sun came up, he was glad to come into work today.
"I'm happy to be here," Eric said. "I'm happy to be telling the story as opposed to having somebody else tell it in an obituary."
We're very happy to report that Eric is uninjured and back to work. We're going to share his full story Tuesday evening on our evening news.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to us to ask about Eric's condition.