This Man Was Almost Swept Away in a Flood—Then a Stranger Stepped In

Unexpectedly, rushing waters grabbed hold of his vehicle and swept him away. He thought he was going to die.

flooded carKrystina Reyes

Martinez (right) being helped from his flooded car by an anonymous hero

In storm-ravaged Santa Clarita, California, last March, Margarito Martinez approached Road Runner Road carefully. A swollen creek had flooded it. Martinez, driving a Toyota SUV, figured he’d be OK. Big mistake.

Halfway across, the rushing waters grabbed hold of his vehicle, sweeping it off the road and washing it down a rocky streambed. It finally stopped a good 80 feet away, when the water somehow lifted the SUV and wedged it in the ground at a 45-degree angle. Bruised, shaken, and trapped inside with the muddy water rising quickly, Martinez was certain he was going to die.

On the road right behind Martinez were a party-rental delivery worker and his niece. They watched the horror unfold, and when Martinez’s SUV came to rest in the middle of the gushing creek, the man leaped to act. First, he grabbed heavy-duty straps from the back of his van and secured the teetering SUV to nearby posts. Then he climbed atop Martinez’s vehicle and banged on a rear window with his fists. Frustrated, he turned to his niece and yelled, “Give me a rock!”

Over and over he smashed the rock into the window, to no avail. “We were scared that something else was going to come down and take the SUV, take him, take my uncle,” Krystina Reyes, 27, told CBSLA. (Her uncle has not publicly revealed his name.)

Reyes’s uncle shouted to Martinez to move away from the window. He braced himself—right foot on the spare tire, left in the wheel well. He leaned back and threw the rock. Finally, the glass broke and the man kicked in the remaining shards. Soon, a soaked Martinez emerged through the window frame, and the men escaped to dry land.

“God is great,” an emotional Martinez said later. “I surrendered to him to save me.” And he saved Martinez by sending a determined, anonymous delivery driver.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Andy Simmons
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.