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Family of drowning victim talks about dangers of driving over floodwaters

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Posted at 8:12 PM, Oct 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 21:25:46-04

A family of a drowning victim warns others about the dangers of driving over floodwaters.

Crystalyn Cook’s father, Jerry Booth, was driving from Temple to Georgetown on May 21, 2015, but he never made it to his destination.

“He knew not to cross. He just wanted so badly to surprise his girlfriend for breakfast and he never got to see his girlfriend for breakfast. He never saw anyone again,” Cook said.

The 54-year-old drove over flooded county road 143 before his car was swept away.

"I think he was about to turn around and he just didn't make it,” Cook said. “By the time he realized, he was already too deep and floating."

According to Temple Fire Department Public Information Officer Thomas Pechal, six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult and 12 inches can carry away a small car.

“Two feet of rushing water will carry away vehicles, including SUVs. Your vehicle becomes a boat and you are going down the stream and you have no control over where you are going,” Pechal said.

Cook recalls the heavy rain and flooding before her father left Temple before sunrise.

Pechal said when driving at night, it can be hard to gauge whether a road is flooded.

“A portion of the road could be washed out. There could be a section missing. There could be a section of the bridge missing and someone drives across that and now they are in the water,” Pechal said.

Booth’s body was found on May 27, 2015, when the water levels had receded.

His death left the 31-year-old and her growing family grieving.

“I miss being able to talk to him any time of the day,” Cook said.

The mother of two wishes her oldest son had more time to share with his grandfather. In addition, she wishes her youngest would have met him.

"It breaks my heart to know he is never going to know his [grandfather],” Cook said.

Firefighters also said even if you are a strong swimmer, debris and the force of the water can make it hard for someone to escape without injuries.

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