SMITHTOWN (WABC) — Tom Kelly, a 14 year veteran of the post office, decided to drive a different way to work, but it turned out to be a near fatal choice.
His car landed in a sinkhole and it started to fill with water.
Sheer determination and some luck helped him escape without a scratch.
“The ground underneath the car felt like it was shaking, and the ground just gave way and I did a nose dive into this sinkhole,” he said. “All this freezing cold water came rushing in.”
A 12 inch water main underneath Mount Pleasant Road burst, sending Kelly’s vehicle into the sinkhole as the water poured into it.
“I couldn’t get out. First thing I tried was to open the door, but I couldn’t open the door. I couldn’t get my seatbelt off,” Kelly said. “The water is rising very rapidly, very fast. It came up to my chest, and I started panicking, and I honestly thought I was going to die.”
Somehow, Kelly says he managed to push open the door to his Chevy.
“As I got out of the car, I sunk even further into the sinkhole because it was sandy, felt like it was in quick sand” Kelly said.
But he managed to pull himself out of the cold, dark, wet hole and would get help from neighbors who heard the crash.
“Thank God he didn’t get hurt. How he got out of it, I don’t know?” Carmin Genna said.
“He was very frightened. All he could think about was that he was going to die here,” Charlie Passarella said.
Kelly says his motivation for survival was his 2-year-old daughter Morgan.
“I wasn’t ready to go today. I didn’t want to and I wasn’t ready to,” he said.
Kelly says he had an angel helping him: his father-in-law who recently passed away. He says he’ll be back to work at the post office on Wednesday.