Ice and Snow
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

As Her Car Sinks in the River, She Takes a Photograph. Of Herself. On Top of the Car.

Insert face palm emoji here as there is much more to this story.

No injuries or fatalities occurred when a yellow car submerged through the ice of a frozen river on Sunday, January 16, 2022 — and the motorist who allegedly drove the car at high speeds along a river was safely rescued with a kayak by local residents at the south end of Ottawa…

As Her Car Sinks in the River, She Takes a Photograph. Of Herself. On Top of the Car.

…but reports — as well as photographs and videos — of the incident suggest that after speeding her car approximately 30 kilometers north on the Rideau River from Kemptville to Manotick, the woman who drove the car stood on top of it and took a photograph of herself while local residents were coming to her rescue as the car was slowly sinking.

The following statement was posted at official Twitter account of the Marine, Dive and Trails Unit of the Ottawa Police Service:

This evening a car went through the ice in the south end of Ottawa. Thankfully no injuries and an amazing job by local residents saving the driver by using a kayak and quick safe thinking. Another reminder that “No Ice Is Safe Ice”. Please use extreme caution this winter season!

However, subsequent messages which were posted to Twitter reveal more to this story — such as the woman taking a photograph of herself while on top of her car while it was slowly sinking.

One video was recorded by a person which seems to show the yellow car at it was speeding along the Rideau River.

People were reportedly ice fishing as children were playing hockey along the river as the car driven by the woman — who was unidentified at the time this article was written — sped by.

How to Drive on Ice — If You Must

Other than the obvious advice of not to drive on a frozen river, here is a list of tips on how to drive on ice, as roads can be covered with ice during or after a winter storm.

  • Ease up on the accelerator pedal and slow down as much as possible without using the brake, as using the brake can increase the chances of your vehicle skidding on ice
  • Keeping your vehicle in a lower gear helps keep the car from going too fast and gives you more control over the vehicle
  • Activate the emergency flashers and turn on the headlights of the vehicle when driving at slow speeds on ice
  • When safe to do so and conditions allow, gently increase speed as gradually as possible
  • Allow yourself a distance of at least 600 feet to attempt to stop a vehicle on ice — especially from the vehicle which is moving in front of you — which, at times, may prove to be impossible depending on conditions
  • Remain alert and do not allow your concentration on driving to be interrupted by your mobile telephone, radio, or other potential distraction
  • Turn your vehicle as few times as possible
  • Do not pass another moving vehicle, as sudden movements can be difficult to predict
  • Avoid driving at the coldest times of the day — which are usually at night and in the early morning hours
  • Assume that wet patches on the road are black ice rather than liquid water — and either avoid those patches or proceed cautiously, as black ice is transparent and can appear to look like an ordinarily wet roadway
  • Because cold air typically circulates under them, bridges, overpasses, and many entrance and exit ramps will almost always be the first surfaces to freeze over before the roadway itself
  • Never use cruise control when driving in icy conditions
  • Lightly pump your brakes when starting slowly to drive down an icy hill if your vehicle is not equipped with anti-lock brakes — and if your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes and automatic transmission, leave your vehicle in the drive position as you start at the top of the hill as slowly as possible; and use light steady pressure on the brake pedal to maintain the right speed in order to allow your braking system to maintain traction
  • If your vehicle happens to skid, always steer the vehicle in the direction you want the car to go
  • If you cannot control your vehicle while it is skidding, do your best to steer it in a direction in which the least damage will be caused — such as a bank of snow as one of many examples
  • If possible, ensure that your vehicle is equipped to deal with ice and snow — such as chains and special winter tires — although even they are not 100 percent foolproof

The best tip, of course, is not to drive on ice at all and wait out the ice in a warm dry spot — such as a restaurant, hotel, or at home — until it melts.

Additional information can be found in the publication How to Drive on Black Ice from the Department of Agriculture of the United States — and please read this article with 16 Tips to Driving a Rental Car in Winter Weather, which could help to save your life.

Final Boarding Call

Most of the articles at The Gate are related to travel — and although travel in general is about taking risks and chances in order to enjoy amazing experiences, some things are better left alone, as the risks may be too great to get a return on investing the time, effort, and money in them.

I normally do not write sensational articles about utterly inexplicable and pointlessly irresponsible incidents such as this one — especially as I do not like to shine the spotlight on the instigators because they seem to desperately seek attention much of the time — but when someone sent this story to me, it was so incredulous that I felt that what happened in this particular case egregiously violated so many safety protocols; and it was difficult for me to simply ignore.

If all of the accounts pertaining to this incident are indeed accurate, the woman who caused her car to break through the ice of the river should pay back every penny of what her rescue and potential environmental damage cost — plus interest — and should reimburse her rescuers for having risked their own lives and wasted their time in saving her life. She should also have her driver’s license and insurance revoked, in my opinion; and be forced to repeatedly learn about safe driving until she is finally educated about being responsible.

I have driven on ice many times without incident. For example, I remember driving on the frozen New Jersey Turnpike to catch a flight to Greenville from Newark International Airport. I drove slowly as I saw vehicle after vehicle sliding down exit ramps which the motorists were unsuccessfully attempting to climb. I eventually arrived for the flight, which was ultimately canceled.

Travel alerts are posted here at The Gate — such as the most recent one pertaining to the massive winter weather system which impacted the eastern half of the United States and the eastern half of Canada — in order to help you travel safely. This includes not having to drive on icy roads…

…but when a frozen river is apparently used as a road, all bets are off — and I hope such blatant irresponsibility by someone else does not put your own travels, safety, and health needlessly in jeopardy.

Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

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