How to survive a submerged car, laugh in the face of danger

On September 22, 1989, a gust of wind plucked a Yugo belonging to Leslie Ann Pluhar off the Mackinac Bridge and cast the vehicle into water below, a strait connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Anyone who has driven across “The Mac,” San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge or one of the spans connecting the Florida Keys has surely wondered whether one can escape from a vehicle submerged in water. Ms. Pluhar did not. But this month, Car and Driver has offered some tips on how to make it out alive, though not without a wink. The feautre is illustrated in the simple, black outline of an airline safety manual, injecting a bit of gallows humor into the proceedings. In one depiction, the victim gasps in horror while clutching his now-broken door handle. Elsewhere, blank-faced fish fin their way toward a Mini Cooper as it plunges toward the sea floor like a manatee. Although most of the advice is common sense (unfasten your safety belt, try to open a window), the piece offers a few nuggets for the morbidly curious. A vehicle, Car and Driver insists, will float for a minute or more before sinking. Opening doors is nearly impossible while air remains inside the passenger compartment and only slightly easier when it fills up with water. Not exactly comforting. But readers will at least find something to laugh about as the last sentence provides the a zinger for science-minded mortals: “Get out and swim to the surface where oxygen is easier to metabolize for the gill-less.”

Leave a Reply