South Carolina Families Railing Against Unguarded Embankments - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

South Carolina Families Railing Against Unguarded Embankments

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Saluda County, SC -

A call no mother needs to hear:

"You think of your worst nightmare, you see the movies where cars are submerged underwater and they're gasping for air, like a coffin filling with water," Kim Bange says.

That's what was happening to Kim's daughter Reanna.

"I said, 'Oh God,' and then the water came in," Reanna says. "I thought I was going to drown, I couldn't get out."

Reanna's car hydroplaned on South Carolina Highway 193. She went over a narrow embankment, without a guardrail, without a shoulder, and dropped 15 feet before floating several hundred yards down the creek as her car filled with water.  She fished out her waterproof cell phone from the floorboard and called her mom.

"To think you can't do anything and you can't find her and the water's rushing in the car and you're like, 'Where are you,' and she's like, 'I'm in the water, mom, I'm in the water,'" Kim recalls.

Reanna's brother Daniel was a short distance behind her, and after a call from his mom spotted his sister's skid marks.  They say last night the water was up at least six to eight feet higher, but Daniel dove right in.

"You're battling everything," Daniel says, "the water, the elements, and of course you're battling yourself to stay calm to get her out."

"When I saw my brother I was not going to drown in front of him," Reanna says.

The family says it is a miracle Reanna didn't die.

"There isn't any shoulder, no rails whatsoever, they would have kept her on the road," Reanna's father Bill says.  "I can't imagine any excuse to not have a guardrail.  The state needs to step up."

"This is a wake up call because next time someone may [die,]" Kim says.

In fact someone already has:  Research by WJBF shows just one county over in Edgefield County, a woman skidded off the road into an icy stream.  Rescuers heard her screams, but she didn't get out time. Another steep embankment, another body of water, another case with no guard rails.

WJBF reached out to the Department of Transportation to investigate their policy on guardrail placement.  We are still waiting for a response, and will of course keep you updated.

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