December 1, 2016 2:28 pm
Updated: December 1, 2016 10:09 pm

WATCH: Car plunges 40 feet off highway into roaring creek on Sunshine Coast

A Surrey woman is speaking out tonight about her near-death experience and remarkable rescue that was caught on video. Jill Bennett has more.

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A Surrey woman’s life was saved in a dramatic rescue after her car plunged about 40 feet into a creek in Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast last week.

Emergency crews were called to the 12000-block of the Sunshine Coast Highway around 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 after the woman’s SUV fishtailed and plummeted off the roadway, over a waterfall and into the rushing creek below.

Police say the car came to a rest on its side in the swollen creek bed, on the edge of another drop-off, with the driver’s side of the vehicle under the water level.

The driver, Carolynne Drane, was the sole occupant of the car, had to be extracted by rescue crews.

Before I knew it, I was going over that cliff, and I thought I was going to die, Drane told Sunshine Coast RCMP after her ordeal.

Drane found herself immersed up to her neck in the frigid water after the crash. She was able to release her seat belt and climb out of her seat, onto the exterior passenger side, only to be soaked by water rushing over top of the vehicle.

The driver, Carolynne Drane, talks about her horrifying accident.

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She says she could see other cars on the highway, but no one could see her.

Drane had to make a tough choice between staying in her car and risking hypothermia as well as the possibility that the vehicle could be pushed further downstream, or trying to swim to either side of the creek, where she would almost certainly be swept over the next waterfall.

She decided to move into a corner inside her vehicle where she could get herself partially out of the water to try to preserve her body heat. Investigators say doing so may have helped to save her life.

They say a passerby, a man who was visiting the Sunshine Coast, spotted Drane.

He happened to be in the area, because he was recommended to look at the stunning waterfalls.

BC Ambulance Service and the Pender Harbour Volunteer Fire Department were the first to respond and worked quickly to make sure the vehicle did not get pushed farther towards the next waterfall. Sunshine Coast RCMP, members of Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue and the Sechelt Volunteer Fire Department also rushed to help, with the Sechelt Fire Department using their ladder truck to lower one of their members down to the vehicle.

PHOTO: A rescue crew member seen helping to get Drane out of her car (Courtesy: Sunshine Coast RCMP)

Madeira park rescue Sunshine Coast

After about 3.5 hours, Drane was pulled out of her car and airlifted to hospital, where she was treated for hypothermia, a broken nose, a concussion and soft tissue damage. She has now been released.

She is very grateful for everyone’s efforts to rescue her.

Const. Harrison Mohr with Sunshine Coast RCMP told Global News it was not safe to remove the vehicle right away because of the dangerous location and high water levels.

He says the car is still in the creek, and it’s still far too dangerous to remove it.

“It may stay there for some time until water levels drop,” said Mohr.

Police are investigating, but Mohr says it was raining heavily at the time of the incident and the highway in the area has a lot of tight corners.

Police are asking that residents in the area spread the word to their friends and family so that others are not alarmed if they happen to see the vehicle in the creek.

PHOTO: Drane’s car, still in the water, as seen from the edge of the creek on Nov. 30, 2016

Sunshine Coast rescue Madeira Park

They are also asking people not to stop to try to take pictures as the road is narrow in that area.

“There are not a lot of places to pull over,” said Mohr. “We certainly would not want to see another collision occur from people trying to take pictures or get a look at it.”

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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