A 20-year-old woman is recovering after her vehicle fell into Cattaraugus Creek, according to Gowanda Police.
Noemi Silleman, 20, of Forestville, says she was trying to park in a lot off Buffalo Street in Gowanda Monday morning when she went to shift her jeep into park by a guardrail and accidentally hit the gas, going over the guardrail and down an embankment that was immediately on the other side
The vehicle fell 25 feet down into Cattaraugus Creek and floated about a quarter mile before stopping in the 30 degree water.
Witnesses called police and swift/ice water rescue teams from Gowanda and Sunset Bay responded to the incident and got Silleman out - who was up to her waist in icy water and starting to go into shock, said Gowanda Fire Chief Nick Crassi.
She was taken to ECMC where she was treated and released for minor injuries and early signs of hypothermia.
On Tuesday, Noemi Silleman returned to the scene of the accident with her family and fiance to talk with 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly.
"Honestly, I didn't know if I was going to make it because the water kept going up and up and up. It got to my waist and I told the operator that I think I am paralyzed because I cannot feel my body. There was no feeling in it and I was scared. Honestly, I thought it was my last day," said the young woman.
The family said they were extremely thankful for the first responders who saved their daughter.
However, the situation could have been much more tragic if the car had flipped upside down in the creek water, explained Nick Crassi.
Noemi told Ed Reilly that the guardrail she was parking by was already down low and her jeep climbed over it very quickly before hitting the water. The family said they are not criticizing anyone but is hoping the guardrails will be improved and moved back from the sharp drop off to Cattaraugus Creek - in order to prevent the same sort of incident from happening to someone else.
The parking lot is not owned by the Village of Gowanda but code enforcement plans to review the accident to see if changes need to be made