Robeson County, NC -- A North Carolina woman who mistakenly drove her SUV into a pond last week said she prayed and sang to pass the time until someone finally heard her cries for help.
84-year-old Margaret Simmons traveled from her home in Evergreen July 18 to Lumberton to deliver a birthday cake to her brother-in-law. On her way home, she found herself on a dead-end road after checking out a rural paving project near Interstate 74, and when she tried to turn around, her Jeep Cherokee ended up in a pond.
"I was frightened when I saw where I was going because I didn't know there was a pond there," Simmons said. "I went off (the road) and went that way, and I said, 'Oh my God.'"
She frantically tried to call her niece and then 911, but the water was already chest high and rising fast. So, she tossed the phone and kicked open the driver's door. She scrambled onto the roof of the submerged jeep and started yelling for help.
Hours passed, but no one could see her through the brush surrounding the pond.
"There was so much traffic, you had to wait in between because of the sound," she said. "I'd cry a while, talk a while and sing 'How Great Thou Art.'"
When night fell, Simmons was still searching for help.
"The stars were shining so pretty on Wednesday night, and you could see the clouds moving past," she said. "I said, 'Lord, please don't send no rain. If you do, we'll go deeper down, and I won't be safe.'"
No rain came, but no rescue either.
She spent a second day on top of her Jeep under a scorching sun. She even used her shoes to scoop water out of the pond to try to cool the roof down.
A couple who live nearby finally heard Simmons screaming for help at about 8 p.m. Thursday - more than 30 hours after she drove into the pond.
A helicopter circled overhead a short time later, and Simmons said she thought it was going to pluck her off the Jeep. Then, a rescue crew came on the ground with a tow rope.
"I said, 'Sir, are you going to hook that to this car and pull it out while I'm still on top of it?'" she said, adding that her rescuers began to laugh. "I thought he was going to roll over in that water when I said that."
Sunburned, dehydrated with suffering from badly pulled muscles from clambering over her car, she was finally back on dry land.
"I just said, 'Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord.' What a wonderful Lord we have that he watched over me," she said.
Simmons said the only thing that scared her during the ordeal was a large creature that circled her Jeep in the pond. She said she doesn't know if it was an eel, a large catfish or something else.
When her children asked her why she wasn't scared to spend the night alone outside, she said she wasn't really by herself.
"I had God right here with me," she said