Katy Expert shares what to do if your car falls into water after a local mother dies

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NEWS FROM KATY MAGAZINE

July 14, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

Katy’s area still mourns the tragic loss of local mother, Allison Kempe, whose vehicle was found submerged in a pond after leaving Katy Molina’s Cantina on Friday night. Although such tragic accidents are rare, a local expert explains how to get out of a flooded vehicle.

Katy’s experts explain how to get out of a flooded vehicle.

Local mom trapped in vehicle, drowns

Local mom of two boys, Allison Kempe (41) left Cantina de Molina in Katy on Friday evening July 9. When she did not return to her home in Richmond, authorities quickly alerted the public and a search began.

Search ends in tragedy

Concern grew when reports emerged that Kempe texted a friend saying she had driven in the water and her vehicle was taking on water.

Tragically, a firefighter on leave spotted his vehicle submerged in a section of Jones Creek, about 1,000 feet north of FM 359 in Richmond on Monday morning. Authorities confirmed the woman in the vehicle was Allison Kempe and reported her death as “accidental drowning.”

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation and said no foul play was suspected in Kempe’s tragic death.

Such accidents are rare but have a plan

“It’s sad in terms of tragedy that we think of these things when such an event occurs,” said Lt. Ryan Skelton of the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.

These types of accidents are rare in our region. In 16 years with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Lt. Skelton can recall 4-5 times he was at the scene for a similar accident. He was not in office or involved in Kempe’s case.

Although such tragedies are rare, drivers can enter water through local ponds, especially when water levels are high after heavy rainfall. Drivers can also get into the water during flooding caused by heavy rain. We are also in hurricane season and storms have caused flooding and risks for drivers like Hurricane Harvey did in 2017.

“In most cases, there is still an underlying problem contributing to the accident,” says Lt. Skelton.

He remembers when a local newspaper delivery boy died from a similar accidental drowning. In this case, he said, there was thick fog in the neighborhood which obscured the water until it was too late. Weather conditions can often become the threat that leads to such cases.

“Accidents like this can happen very quickly,” says Lt. Skelton. “It’s important to have a plan. If the time is right and you don’t have a plan, you panic.”

However, if a driver gets stuck in the vehicle catching water, there are things they can do to escape.

Lt. Skelton emphasizes that staying calm is the top priority in such an accident.

“Time is not your friend,” he says. “The car will float but only for about a minute. Your life and the lives of your passengers should be your top priority. Don’t worry about your phone or even calling 911.”

How to get out:

  • Open window- “It will take some time for the circuits to be cut,” said Lt. Skelton. If you can’t open the window, a utility knife or window cutter (most sold at local gas stations or online also have belt cutters) can easily puncture the window at the top corners.

  • Don’t try to break the windshield because it is designed to resist breakage. According to Lt. Skelton, going out the window is the best option. If you are going to open the door, you will need to let the water fill up before doing so to equalize the pressure. It goes against our instincts in a moment of panic.

  • Practice your plan. Obviously, you’re not going to be driving your car in water, but think “this is what I’m going to do” and have a family plan.

“Train your kids to get out of their car seats,” says Lt. Skelton. “If you have to take the time to unbuckle the kids and get them to the front of the car, it can take over 30 seconds when you could break a window.”

Once the water begins to enter the car, it can be absorbed in just over 60 seconds.

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You can find examples of tools for breaking glass online for just over $ 10.

The FBCSO is still investigating the circumstances of Allison Kempe’s tragic drowning.

Lt. Skelton says to always be prepared even outside of this water scenario.

“Things are happening,” said Lt. Skelton. “If you go to a movie theater, find and know the exits.”

The community mourns Kempe

Kempe has two young sons aged 3 and 5. According to Facebook, she was a graduate of the University of Houston and worked as a human resources manager at Worldwide Oilfield Machine in Houston.

Friends took to social media to express their support for her family and to talk about her fun and caring personality who will be missed by anyone who knew her.

“I ask that your thoughts, prayers and privacy be extended to Allison’s family during this difficult time,” said Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan.

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