Girls Who Nearly Drowned In Drainage Ditch Tell Their Story

Two girls are out of the hospital after they were caught in a flash flood on Wednesday.  They were walking near a drainage ditch in Mineola, when the storms hit.

"I thought we were going to die," said 12 year old Emily Strickland.  When she and her 13-year-old friend, Elizabeth Burge began their walk near a drainage ditch, it was only sprinkling.  Then it began to pour and they searched for shelter under the bridge.  "Since it was raining real hard and it wasn't that much water in here we decided to go in and sit on the pole down there and the water just hit and then we held on and we kept calling help," said Strickland.

Emily's sister was just down the street and heard their calls. She then ran for help. Within minutes, 13 firefighters came to the girls' rescue.  David Sinches, one of the firefighters said, "both girls were holding on to a water pipe under the bridge here and you could hear them screaming and crying."  "They kept telling us to hold on, so we held on as tight as we could," said Strickland.

Rescue crews used a pole on the edge of the ditch to wrap a rope around it.  When Strickland saw the rope, she let go of the pipe she was holding on to, let the current carry her and then she grabbed the rope.  Sinches said the rescue took a scary turn.  "When she initially grabbed the rope, it came up around her neck. And as far as that water's pushing  I was like, man, I hope she doesn't hang herself. And then he started pulling her in, once she got close enough she was out."

Meantime, Burge had been swept off by the current.  Firefighters tried to pull her up three different times, but each time they tried, she slipped further down the ditch. Then, finally, the firefighters pulled her to safety.  "I grabbed a tree and then Javier and Mark came down there and grabbed me," said Elizabeth.  Burge and Strickland say they've learned their lesson.  "Never go back down there because it's very dangerous and you might get killed," said Strickland.

Oralia Ortega reporting,