Ariana Smith thought she was going to die as she clung to a tree for two hours and watched the murky flood waters from Monday's torrential rain rush past her feet.
The 16-year-old Carl Albert High School student had been driving in the morning rain to her aunt's house in the Oakdale Valley subdivision to baby-sit her cousins.
She was driving east on Hefner Road when a rush of water swept her sport utility vehicle off a bridge over Deep Fork Creek near Sooner Road.
"It was good until I got to the bridge,” Smith said several hours after she was rescued and returned to the scene to watch the flood waters. "It looked less deep than it was. My car went with the current, so I rolled down my window and swam to a tree.”
Smith called her aunt for help, but the water-damaged cell phone cut off before Karen Davis could find out where her niece was stranded.
"The fire people wouldn't listen to me,” said Davis, who responded to the call for help by driving to the water's edge at Hefner Road and Sooner Road and screaming Smith's name. "I ran all over the neighborhood seeing if I could find a boat.”
Her niece's 1996 Yukon had been swept off the road, so the Oklahoma City Fire Department's Water Rescue Team didn't know to look for the teen.
"I just watched my car sink,” Smith said. "I thought I was going to die.”
Eventually a news camera man on the opposite side of the flood heard Smith's cries for help and alerted the rescue squad, Battalion Chief Kirk Wright said.
"We were coming out to rescue two people in their cars on the bridge,” Wright said. "We found (Smith) standing in the trees.”
All told, seven people were pulled from the rushing waters that spilled over the banks of Deep Fork Creek and inundated Sooner Road and Hefner Road just east of Interstate 35.
Wright said crews would resume searching for another person Monday after a second round of storms passed by. Wright said witnesses reported seeing a woman in the water.
Smith was still shaken by the ordeal Monday as she watched air boats and helicopters scan the flooded area. Her mother, Carla Gordon Smith, said she felt helpless as she tried, on flooded and closed roads, to reach the place her daughter had gone missing.
"Whenever she walked into my uncle's house — to be able to hold her — I just broke down,” she said.