Cell phone led to grad’s crashA Devils Lake High School senior who was saved from drowning two days before graduation says she was reaching for a ringing cell phone when she lost control of her car.
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) — A Devils Lake High School senior who was saved from drowning two days before graduation says she was reaching for a ringing cell phone when she lost control of her car.
“My cell phone rang, and I reached for it then swerved to the right and overcorrected to the left. I lost control,” said Amanda Burtness, 18. “I went into the water and my car rolled over in the water, onto the roof, with just two wheels sticking up out of the water.”
Burtness’s car on Friday afternoon landed in a water treatment system holding pond along the highway on the outskirts of Devils Lake. She said she thought she was going to die.
“Then I was, ‘OK, you need to find a way out of here,”‘ she said. “Then I found the air pocket. I could hear people screaming around me. Someone stuck his hand under the water into the car. I could feel a hand on my leg, and I started squeezing it. Then, another hand came in and he pulled me out, under and then out.”
Several motorists stopped to help, including Jeff Hawn, a National Guardsman and member of the Lake Region Search and Rescue Team. He pulled the girl out of the vehicle and the water.
Her father, Barry Burtness, was driving to town and came upon the scene shortly after the crash.
“When you see your kid’s car upside-down in the water, with just tail lights sticking out ... Lord, I slammed on the brakes in back of a cop’s car and ran out in panic,” he said. “It didn’t look good with all the rescue vehicles, and I thought the worst. And a policeman said, ‘She’s OK, she’s OK.’
“I ran over there. I said, ‘How are you?’ She said, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine.’ I said, ‘What happened?’ She said, ‘My cell phone’ ... I have told my wife and my daughters these darned cell phones and driving are just not the thing.”
Amanda Burtness was treated at a local hospital for minor cuts on her foot and hand and a bruise near her eye from the air bag, then released.
She was to leave Monday with her dance team for a week of performing at Disney World in Florida.
“It’s a God blessing, I can tell you that,” her father said. “Instead of family members coming up for a graduation, when I drove up there I thought: They could be coming up for a funeral.”