By Dan Santy Monday 18 February 2013 Updated: 18/02 16:08
A MUM has described the terrifying ordeal of being trapped with her children in their car as it began to fill with ice cold flood water.
Mariel Murphy was on her way home in the dark when her VW Polo broke down while trying to cross the swollen ford between Churchover and Harborough Magna.
The 38-year-old photographer had just dropped her mum off at the railway station last Thursday evening (February 14) and had decided to divert through Harborough Magna on her way to Churchover because of traffic on Leicester Road.
Having only moved to Churchover from Park Road in the town centre with husband Kevin a week earlier, she did not know the road well and struggled to see the extent of the flooding due to the pitch black.
Mrs Murphy told the Observer she could see water on the road where it crosses the River Swift but felt confident she could drive through.
She said: "I started driving through when the car cut out and then got carried off to the right and into the bridge. It was a really strong current so I rang the fire brigade and thought I'd wait.
"But water was getting in and within minutes it had risen to my knees. My three children were screaming in the back - the water was nearly up to their chins.
"I didn't panic at first and had just been trying to reassure my children, but at this point I really started to worry.
"I then looked across and saw two men in a van nearby, but the electrics had cut out and I couldn't open the windows so I started banging and waving to get their attention."
In a stroke of luck for Mrs Murphy and her children, Northampton workmen Neal Bliss and Stephen Andrews were close by after their sat nav diverted them away from the M1 because an accident had shut the motorway south of Crick.
Once the pair realised the family were trapped inside the car, they waded into the freezing water and managed to open the boot before dragging the four of them out, at which point the fire brigade arrived.
Their ordeal lasted around 15 minutes.
Mrs Murphy, who is traumatised by what happened, said: "They were just amazing, they were so brave and strong.
"The fire brigade said afterwards they shouldn't have done it, but I'm just glad they were there to help us."
Despite being left scared and wet by their ordeal, Mrs Murphy and sons Joseph, six, and Hayden, three, and daughter Gia, 18 months, were given the all clear by paramedics.
A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: "Had the car not been a hatchback and had the two men not come to their aid so quickly, the outcome may have been very different. Our praise must go to the two men for acting so quickly."
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