Survivor recounts being swept away in icy water

MARQUAND, MO (KFVS) - It was hard for Brittany Voelker to even go to the bridge on Route V outside of Marquand on Monday.

She's thankful a friend was able to rescue her, but is sad for the loss of their friend Perry Miller.

Search crews found 59-year-old Miller's body downstream from the bridge Sunday.

"I just wish we could have got Perry out as well," said Voelker.

According to Voelker, she was in a truck with three other friends when they saw the flooded bridge. She said one friend hopped out to try to cross it on foot. Voelker when after her, but the strong waters pulled them both in.

"I kept drowning and drowning and drowning, and Erica was drowning too, and we was trying to stay above water but it was just so strong," said Voelker.

Miller and Josh Tinnin were still in the truck.

"Josh pulled his truck up just a little bit to shine his headlights out to see where we were and he went to jump out and Perry was still in the truck and he went to jump out and he accidentally grabbed the wheel and moved it, and the left tire went off the bridge and flipped the truck into the water," said Voelker.

Voelker was able to grab hold of a branch, Tinnin swam to save their other friend Erica, and finally they saw Miller.

"He come swimming by us and josh pushed himself out off of Erica and he was still about 4 feet away from Perry and he couldn't grab him the current was too swift," said Voelker.

Monday the water didn't even reach the 1 foot mark. Voelker said when they were there, the water was higher than two feet.

"It was just like a tornado, it just kept sucking us back down, it was too hard to swim in, it was just too much," said Voelker.

The icy temperatures, and strong waters made for a bad combination. She said it was the scariest moment of her life.

"I just kept thinking about my kids, I just kept thinking about where Perry was, I kept thinking you know I'm going to die out here, my body was so cold and numb and I couldn't move, and I just thought I was going to lose everything, I thought my kids wasn't going to have a mom no more, and I was so worried about Perry I just wanted to find him, but I wish I could have helped search for him, but I had to go to the hospital," said Voelker. "I had taken off all of my stuff and threw it in the water to take the weight off of me and Josh come over and help me, he had to lift my legs over branches and things and got me out of the water up onto the bank."

She said she's thankful Tinnin was able to help her to safety, and wishes they could have found Miller more quickly.

"I pray for Perry's family, I just want them to know that we done everything we could to try to save him as well, we just couldn't find him," said Voelker.

Voelker now wants to warn others of future dangers.

"I just want everyone to know to not ever mess with this water, we never tried to cross it with the truck, but even to get out and walk across it, don't even do that because it's too risky man, it's too risky," said Voelker.

A visitation is schedule for Perry Miller this Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Follis and Sons Funeral home. The funeral service will begin right after at 2 p.m.

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