Officers track cell signal of 911 call to rescue woman from water


Police rescued a woman after her car flipped upside-down in a watery ditch off Interstate 465 Tuesday morning.

Shanika Parker of Merrillville told IMPD officers who pulled her out of her car that she had fallen asleep while entering northbound I-465 from westbound 38th Street. Her car careened down an embankment and flipped upside-down in a draining ditch.

"Oh Jesus, help me," Parker begged on a 911 call. "My car's filling up with water. Oh my God!"

"She had the presence of mind to get out her cell phone and call 911," said IMPD Sgt. Steven Ferklic at the scene, and officers familiar with the area found her before her car filled with water.

A team of IMPD officers waded to the car and pried open the door of her Chrysler 300 to pull her out.

Police say Parker told them she fell asleep at the wheel on her way home around 5 a.m. She told the operator she thought she might have been on High School Road when she crashed her car.

The next thing Parker knew, she was upside down, in the dark, and in the water.

"I need your location. Where are you so I can send help?" the 911 operator asked Parker.

"I don't know. My car is flipped over and is filling with water," she told the operator, crying.

With Parker so disoriented and unable to see where she was, police used the signal from her cell phone to finally locate her near 38th Street and Interstate 465 on the city's west side.

"I'm here at the door," Parker told her rescuers when she heard them outside of her car, now almost full of water.

"She couldn't give us her address. So I mean, her cell phone saved her life," said IMPD Ofc. Nicholas Wroblewski.

"If we wouldn't have found her, I believe she probably wouldn't be found for days," said IMPD Ofc. Brian Ramey, who said the car was at least 50 feet off the roadway in the water.

Parker's cell phone, though, was only part of it.

"I knew we were running out of time. She was gasping for air," explained IMPD Ofc. Eric Huxley. "We could see her going under and coming back up and we knew we were running out of time. We had to get the door open."

"The two of us couldn't get the door open. We were trying with everything we had," said Wroblewski.

It ultimately took the strength of four officers to pry and push the door open even a few inches.

"If there was just one or two of us, we probably wouldn't have gotten the door open. We had to work as a whole team to get together and get the door open," said Ramey.

You can hear the officers on the 911 call, struggling to get Parker out.

"One, two three. One, two, three. One, two, three," they counted as they worked to free Parker.

Then came the joy when it happened.

"We got her! I got her!" one of the officer's yelled.

Parker cried in the background.

Her tears were her relief that she was alive, not only because of her phone's technology, but thanks to the teamwork, strength and sheer will of her rescuers.

"You could drive by this for a long time and not see the car," Ferklic said.

Parker didn't want to talk after her ordeal, but called the officers her heroes and credited them for saving her life.

Ferklic said she suffered bumps and bruises, and was shaken by the ordeal.