After a near-death experience, the driver of a car that went plunging into the Chesapeake Bay Bridge while driving to visit family in Philadelphia shared her story of survival.
Morgan Lake, 22, of Sunderland, Md. was on her way to visit friends and relatives in Philadelphia on Friday when a tractor-trailer slammed into the back of her car, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.
"Everything around me exploded," Lake said. "Glass everywhere, airbag in my face and I felt that this was it."
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The Chrysler Sebring teetered on the wall for a time for what Lake said "felt like eternity" into the Chesapeake Bay.
"I didn't hit the water immediately. I was in air and in the air is when I felt that I was gone."
The car eventually plummeted 40 feet to the water below. The Sebring went under the water while Lake was still wearing her seat belt, and water began to rush into her vehicle.
"The longest part was under the water, because I had time to think I was going to die and the time to process, to change my mind and to stop fighting and to relax my body and unbuckle my seat belt to swim out."
Lake said that once she told herself that she could save her own life, she relaxed, unbuckled her seat belt and swam out. She pushed off the car for momentum and rose to the surface and took a breath.
Lake managed to swim in the cold, dark water with her eyes closed to reach land.
"I swam out my window and pushed off my car to get a little more momentum to go up. It took me awhile to get up to the surface, and I didn't want to end that way so I saved myself and swam to the rocks."
Rescuers arrived to the scene and she was taken to the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and released the next day.
A student at the College of Southern Maryland student, Lake said she was in pain, but she suffered only bumps and bruises.
Lake is now recovering at home and uses a walker to get around. She credits her ability to swim and her faith for getting her through the ordeal.
"I just hope that I can inspire everyone not to give up and that you can be your own superwoman or superman."
Melani Lake credited her daughter's "sheer will to survive." She said she knew her daughter was an athlete, but "we didn't know she could swim like that."
The collision occurred Friday night in the eastbound lanes of the bridge, which connects Maryland's Eastern Shore with the rest of the state. The accident occurred about a quarter-mile onto the span. The vehicle went into water that was about 8 feet deep.
Police said no charges had been filed.
In 2010, Travel and Leisure magazine named the 4.3-mile span that connects the Eastern Shore to the rest of Maryland as one of the scariest bridges in the world.