Tom Mitchell was out driving around when he came upon a terrifying scene Saturday: a pickup truck flipped over in a ditch full of rushing water near Myrtle Springs, Texas. Inside was Phillip Ocheltree, his infant son Marshal, and his toddler daughter Addyson.
“Life comes at you in a blink of an eye,” Ocheltree wrote on Facebook. “Last night leaving our home trying to get away from what was yet to come we hydroplaned off the highway.”
Tornadoes had ravaged the area earlier in the day, leaving at least four people dead and more than 50 injured. Mitchell told WFAA he was just out driving around to see if he could do anything to help.
When Mitchell arrived, half a dozen people were working frantically to extricate the family from the vehicle, but the rushing water was so swift that they couldn’t even open the doors, WFAA reports.
Mitchell, who told WFAA he lacked the strength to jump into the rushing water, began filming the rescue on his cell phone.
Suddenly, Marshal is free but limp, white and going blue-ish grey, Mitchell told the station. That’s when he put the phone in his pocket and began CPR.
“This baby is gonna die if we don’t start CPR fast,” he thought. “Having a negative feeling coming over me. This baby may not make it, this baby may not make it. No reaction, nothing is happening.”
The video at this point shows only the dark inside of Mitchell’s pocket, but the chaos of the terrifying scene can still be heard. The confused shouts of rescuers mingle with the rush of water, and Ocheltree’s heart-rending scream.
“That’s my daughter!”
Suddenly, a woman’s voice can be heard, fervently praying over Mitchell’s patient.
“In the name of Jesus let him breathe, let him breathe Lord, let him breathe,” she says. “Give him breath Lord, give him breath, in the name of Jesus let him breathe.”
“We got one!” rescuers shout as Marshal begins to breathe again.
“The first prayer she said, I felt a response in that child,” Mitchell told WFAA.
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The prayers continue as responders move on to Addyson.
“Come on Lord, in the name of Jesus let her breathe, Lord breathe in her, breathe in her Lord, breathe in her Lord, in the name of Jesus breathe in her Lord.”
Finally, the triumphant shout, “There she goes!”
But Addyson still wasn’t breathing well, and she was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was put under sedation and given a breathing tube.
“Marshal is in excellent condition and is full of life,” Ocheltree said in a Facebook update from the hospital. “Addy bug right now is [a] fighter for lack of better words. She is stable and breathing more and more on her own but it’s all up to her as to when she is ready to wake up.”
Ocheltree said on Facebook Sunday that doctors planned to pull the breathing tube Monday to see if she could breathe on her own.
“All scans and tests say it looks promising,” he said. “We seriously cannot thank all of the friends, people family everyone that has been with us thank you all for your support and prayers the man upstairs is hearing them loud and clear.”
Ocheltree also took time to thank rescuers, calling them a blessing.
“I can’t thank you all enough who came into the water and saved my children.”