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Cori Craft was driving rural Ellison Bridge Road in Sardis, Georgia in the rain when she hit a pothole and lost control of her SUV. The car flew of the road, rolled over, and landed sideways in the river 135 feet away. Worst of all, her two children were in the back seat.

“Once the car came to a stop and I realized I was in the water, all I was thinking was like, ‘I had to get out and get my kids out'”

In the crash, she’d lost her glasses and cellphone. Blind and sideways in the sinking car, she couldn’t even get the waterlogged door above her open. She said she realized she’d need a “miracle” to survive.

Muddy river in a Georgia swamp
River | Robert Moore via iStockPhoto

Craft’s miracle came in the form of five students from the University of Georgia, who were driving in the opposite lane. They saw the SUV go off the road, pulled a u-turn, and drove to the shore of the river. Jane McArdle, Mary McCollum, Eleanor Cart, Clarke Jones and Kaitlyn Lannace all jumped into the water and swam out to the SUV. There, they found Craft trying to escape the sunken car through the sunroof.

“We just throw our stuff aside, basically, just without really much hesitation. And just jump in and one by one we all just start swimming out into the middle. We like are standing on top of the car. And we eventually get this like super heavy, waterlogged door open and we’re able to take the first eight-year-old out of the car.”

Molly McCollum

The rescuers finally pulled the younger boy out of the car, but found he was completely unresponsive. Luckily for the family, they were prepared for that too. Another one of the students recounted, “I know CPR, so didn’t have time to swim him up to the shore or anything, so I just sat on a tire and laid him out on the side of the car that wasn’t under the water yet and performed CPR. And then eventually he came to and started crying and breathing. And it was a really surreal experience.”

The five sorority sisters said they were on their way to Savannah last weekend for a St Patty’s Day girls’ trip. It sure is lucky they were on Ellison Bridge Road when they were.

Craft believes her family would not be here today without the five UGA heroes. She says she wishes she could, “Thank them for how much they helped me and my kids get out safely.” Craft and both her boys have been released from the hospital and are resting at home.

Next, read about the 18-year-old who sacrificed herself to save a wheelchair-bound woman stuck on train tracks, or see Craft and her rescuers interviewed in the video below: