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Florida drunk driver hit hydrant, creating huge sinkhole that swallowed car, cops say

A Florida driver faces DUI charges after cops said she hit a fire hydrant, making a sinkhole that swallowed her car and nearly drowned her and a woman trying to help. Marion County responders rescued her.
A Florida driver faces DUI charges after cops said she hit a fire hydrant, making a sinkhole that swallowed her car and nearly drowned her and a woman trying to help. Marion County responders rescued her. Screen grab from WFLA/NBC video

A Central Florida driver ended up in jail — and her car ended up in a sinkhole she created — after she drunkenly struck a fire hydrant Friday morning, according to police.

Alexandrea Runyon, a 22-year-old woman from Lady Lake, is accused of driving into the hydrant in Summerfield, WESH reports. That unleashed water from the hydrant, making a sinkhole 20 feet across and 8 feet deep that engulfed Runyon’s car — nearly drowning Runyon and a woman trying to help her escape the hole, according to the TV station.

Marion County first responders rescued both women, and then Runyon was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and booked at the Marion County Jail on $1,000 bond, Villages-News reports.

Shawn Drake was driving home from work Friday when he spotted the crash, and after reporting the incident to 911 he called his aunt and his mother, Dawn Drake, to come help, the Ocala StarBanner reports.

“I go over and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, are you okay’?” Shawn Drake said of his first interaction with Runyon, according to WKMG.

Alexandrea-Marie-Runyon.jpg
Alexandrea Runyon, 22 Marion County Sheriff's Office

But when Dawn Drake arrived and approached the vehicle to help Runyon, part of the vehicle sank into the pit of water, engulfing both her and Runyon, according to the newspaper.

“Down I went into 10 feet of water. ... I was hanging on for dear life,” Dawn Drake said, explaining how she clung to a front tire and open door while Runyon clung to another part of the vehicle, according to the StarBanner.

Dawn Drake described it as a “just a total shock” in her interview with WKMG.

Shawn Drake got in the passenger’s side of the car to pull Runyon back into the vehicle, but he said “she was fighting me” and “had no idea what was going on,” which prevented him from reaching and rescuing his mom, the StarBanner reports.

At one point, Runyon tried closing the front door Dawn Drake was clinging to, her son said, prompting him to yell at her to quit trying to shut it, according to the StarBanner.

“I was trying to help somebody, and she was fighting and being completely just ridiculous,” Shawn Drake said, WKMG reports.

Firefighters and deputies finally arrived, and pulled Dawn Drake and Runyon to safety.

“I was probably hanging on for 10 minutes,” Dawn Drake said, according to the StarBanner. “I tell you I’m sore. ... I’ve got gashes on my fingers where I was hanging on.”

A Florida Highway Patrol report said Runyon crashed the 2004 Buick Century around 2 a.m. on U.S. Highway 441 and 156th Place, according to Villages-News.

Troopers said Runyon doesn’t remember how she hit the fire hydrant, or much else about the crash, the StarBanner reports.

Body camera footage of the rescue, obtained by WCJB, appears to show Dawn Drake wrapped in a blanket. That video shows the Drakes explaining to their rescuers exactly what happened with Runyon, WKMG reports.

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