2-year-old boy’s drowning sparks “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” warning

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- An Indianapolis boy drowned after state police say his mother drove into flood waters.

The devastating accident took place in Wabash County. Public safety experts say the tragedy can serve as an important safety lesson.

Every year, spring rains bring street flooding and some drivers ignore all the warnings and drive through high water.

"Sometimes people do drive through and sometimes people make it but the overwhelming risk is the fact that you could lose your life," said Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine.

With constant rainfall over the past few weeks, police all over the state have responded to multiple calls for water rescues after drivers got trapped by rushing waters, leading to a familiar warning.

"The message is the same, turn around and don’t drown. If you see water across the road, it’s not safe to drive into it. Unfortunately, it seems like we’re constantly reminded of the tragic consequences of people not heading those warnings.

According to a press release from Indiana State Police:

Anthonitte Carter, 22, Indianapolis, IN, was driving a 2003 Chevrolet Impala eastbound on County Road 925 South east of State Road 13.

Evidence indicates that the Impala passed a high water sign. The sign had been posted, on the south shoulder, to warn drivers of possible flooding due to multiple days of rain in the area.

Carter allegedly did not see the sign and drove into floodwaters which had completely covered the road. Shortly after the vehicle entered the water it was carried to the north side of the road, by the water’s current, and became submerged. Carter was able to escape the vehicle.

Unfortunately, Carter’s two-year old son, Eric Long, did not make it out of the submerged Impala. Despite Carter’s attempt to rescue her son, she was not able to free him.

Responding conservation officers from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and officers from the Wabash County Sheriff’s Department had to enter the flood water to rescue Carter. She was struggling and purportedly did not know how to swim.

Indiana conservation divers located the Impala submerged in approximately eight feet of water. With the assistance of a local towing company the vehicle was recovered. The toddler was found deceased inside.

"These things are preventable. When we come across a flooding roadway, we can turn around," said IFD Special Operations chief Kevin Jones.

Jones says the little boy’s death this week proves once again that drivers should never underestimate the amount of water on the roads.

Experts say just 12 inches of water can carry away a small car and just 6 inches can cause a car to lose control or stall.

"The messaging is don’t drive through flooded roadways. We hear it all too often, but unfortunately we still see tragic events like this where someone lost their life," said Jones.

"It just comes down to being vigilant. Pay attention to not only the sign on the road but actually what’s happening in front of you," said Perrine.

If you do find yourself trapped by flood waters, rescue crews say you should try to climb onto the roof of your car and call 911.

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