HEROES: Hillsborough deputies rescue woman from upside down car in muddy ditch

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa woman can thank the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for saving her life after her car wound up upside down in a muddy ravine off Interstate-4 early New Year’s Day.

“Today is one of those days where everything went right,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Danny Alvarez. “The outcome was incredible.’

Florida Highway Patrol investigators say at 3:52 a.m. Tuesday, Amanda Antonio, 33, of Tampa was driving eastbound on I-4 and was approaching the US-301 exit ramp when she was cut off by another driver and lost control of her car.

Her car went off the interstate and overturned into a muddy, water-filled ditch and began to sink.

Antonio managed to call 911 to tell them she was trapped in her car in the water.

“The com center could hear the desperation in her voice,” said Alvarez. “If it was not for them we would not have been able to calm her down as the water was rising from her chest to her neck and try to figure out where she was.”

Alvarez said deputies were dispatched to the scene immediately.

“Dispatch sent out the call and we had 13 units trying to race up and down I-4 near the fairgrounds in a dense, dense fog. If you could paint the picture, our lights are bouncing back at us from the fog as we’re trying to find this woman that is literally drowning as we speak.”

After deputies arrived on scene, one deputy saw the back end of a car sticking out of the mud.

“It was water, but muck, really, and the car is sinking and the back light of the car is almost the only thing that is sticking out,” said Alvarez.

The deputy jumped into the water, calmed her down and kept her in a pocket of air until the dive team arrived to rescue her. 

After the dive team rescued Antonio from the car, she was able to walk away unharmed.

The car that cut her off has not been identified, according to FHP investigators.

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