Skip to main content

A dad and highway engineer in the U.K. pulled off a heroic one-man rescue when a flooding river nearly claimed a mother and her three-year-old daughter. Liam Stych and his wife were walking near a park when they saw a Fiat swept into the river. Not only did Stych hang off a bridge to stop the car racing down the river, and saved everyone on board, but he used the most dad-core of tools to do it: the ratchet straps from his work van.

My family jokes that ratchet straps are dad’s love language. Car broke down? Dad will show up with a truck, trailer, and ratchet straps. Got dumped and moving out of your significant other’s house? Dad will show up with a truck, trailer, and ratchet straps. I suspect that if the zombie apocalypse happened, my dad would show up with ratchet straps. And he’d probably figure something out.

I had a good laugh when this U.K. dad-of-two, in a life-or-death situation, reached for his ratchet straps. But there’s a very good reason why.

England was hit with a heavy winter storm, nicknamed “Henk.” Afterwards, 28-year-old Liam Stych and his pregnant wife took his work van to a park near Birmingham for an evening stroll. In the dusk, they saw a little, four-door Fiat “enter the water.” It appears that the water had flooded a nearby road and claimed the compact.

The driver of the car began calling out to 28-year-old Stych. He told her to roll down the windows and get out. But then “the current took the car, and it hit the bridge.” The Fiat stopped briefly, pinned against a small foot bridge running through the park. But Stych knew that as it sunk, it would soon slip under the bridge. He also knew that if it became trapped underneath, he had no chance of getting the driver out.

You might think the situation couldn’t get any more desperate. But then the woman driving the car shouted, “I’ve got a child in the car.” She repeatedly begged, “Save my baby!”

Stych climbed over the hand rail of the bridge, braced himself against the car, and caught the toddler as her mother pushed her daughter through the window. Then he lifted her to safety and handed her to his wife. The little girls repeatedly shouted, “Mommy!” while the pregnant woman assured her, “Mommy is going to be OK.”

Meanwhile, Stych ran down the bridge and back to his work van. There, he grabbed a set of 3.5 ton ratchet straps and raced back to the river. When he returned, the car had slipped far enough under the bridge, that the front doors had disappeared. Stych again climbed across the railing and hung over the icy water. He said he was worried about stepping onto the car again because his weight might sink it. So hanging from the bridge, he smashed the back windows and ran a strap through the car. He explained, “I secured the car to the bridge with the ratchet straps so it wouldn’t drift any further under the bridge.”

White compact car submerged in a flooded river, attached to a bridge with ratchet straps.
Fiat secured to bridge with ratchet straps | SWNS via YouTube

With the car secure, Stych had a moment to breathe and plan how to rescue the mother from the submerged car. “I then told the woman to climb into the back and get out the window.” The only problem was, Stych didn’t think he could pull her all the way up onto the bridge by himself.

Stych said, “It’d been raining heavily and the roads suddenly turned into rivers and the streams turned into raging rivers.” The current was so fast, the woman was worried she’d die if she jumped in the water. So Stych told her that he’d jump in with her and find a way to pull her out.

He said, ““She managed to get out and we held hands to jump together into the water after a count of three.” Stych recalled that the current “was really strong.” But in the end, “I dragged her out of the water.”

The local police called Stych a hero. But he modestly said he acted “on instinct.” He said, “It was pure luck that we were there when it happened.” And he added, “I think if I hadn’t done what I did the car would have been dragged under the bridge and there would have been no way of getting them out.” Ratchet straps to the rescue!

Next, read about the teenage son who lifted a fallen truck off his dad, or see footage of Liam Stych’s daring river rescue in the video below: