JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — A Mississippi girl remained hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday, two days after several people, including neighbors, jumped into cold water to rescue her from her mother’s overturned car.
Chasity White, the mother 4-year-old Helena White, told WLBT-TV that she was driving in Rankin County on Sunday afternoon when she lost control of her car, ran off the road and flipped into a ditch with waist-high water.
“She wanted to show me a picture that she drew, so I turned back and looked for like half a second,” White said. “And then I looked back and I was about to go off the road so I over-corrected it.”
White’s car submerged upside down in water, with Helena trapped inside. The distraught mother screamed for help, and neighbors came running.
“The mama was yelling, ‘My baby,’ over and over again,” one of the neighbors who responded, Sherry Jackson, told The Clarion-Ledger. “I did what any mother would do. I jumped in the freezing water. I knew we had to get that little girl out.”
Jackson said multiple knives were too dull to cut the girl free from her car seat, and objects such as a pillow and groceries were blocking their way. Jackson and several others eventually rolled the car enough to get Helena out.
“We had to cut the seatbelt,” White said. “It took, they said five minutes, it seemed like an hour to get her out. It was terrifying. I got her out, she was limp and blue and I’m like, ‘Oh, my baby’s dead.'”
White said her daughter suffered serious injuries, including water in her lungs and bruising. She was in critical condition Tuesday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, a hospital spokesman said.
“I’m still afraid I’m going to lose her. I wasn’t there when the wreck happened. I felt helpless to her and I still do,” Ray White, Helena’s father, told WLBT.
Helena’s parents thanked the people who helped rescue their daughter, including Deputy Wade Spencer who performed CPR.
“Anybody in our shoes, if they had been here, they would have done the same thing,” Jackson said.
Helena’s birthday is next weekend, but her parents said they will wait to celebrate when she is ready.