A Saskatchewan couple who got the idea of smashing their way out of their partially submerged vehicle from a Rick Mercer video is giving credit to the CBC personality.

Natalie and James Millar, along with their 2½-year old son, were driving home to Regina from vacation Aug. 8 when their sport utility vehicle went off the highway and into about two metres of water. Almost immediately, it started to sink.


A Saskatchewan family says watching a segment of the Rick Mercer Report helped them to survive after their SUV ended up in a pond. (CBC)

"It was my worst fear coming true," Natalie said.

However, she had previously watched a YouTube video of the Rick Mercer Report from 2010 where Mercer showed how to escape from a sinking car.

In that segment, Mercer and University of Manitoba cold weather researcher Gordon Giesbrecht — a.k.a. Dr. Popsicle — showed how a $10 window-punch gadget could save the day in such emergencies.

Giesbrecht said if it happens, people need to quickly free themselves from their seatbelts, open a window, grab their children and then get out.

The Millars said they were prepared when their SUV went into the pond near Imperial, Sask., and followed the instructions to the letter.

SUV crash in Saskatchewan slough

Natalie Millar and her family were heading south on Highway 2 near Imperial, Sask., on Aug. 8 when the SUV went off the road into a pond. (Sally Ferrara)

The Millars couldn't open their power windows because the system had shorted out, but fortunately they had a spring-loaded window-punch device in the vehicle.

They smashed open the windows, got their son out of the SUV and in a matter of minutes — with the assistance of several bystanders who jumped into the water after them —  they were soon back on dry ground, being cared for by paramedics.

No one was injured. 

Thanks to a video link, the couple appeared with Mercer on CBC News Network on Friday.

"I'm so glad to see you guys, above ground and dry — that's pretty exciting," said Mercer, who joked that if they wanted to meet him, there were easier ways.

"You don't have to do this. I'm very accessible," he said.

'For someone like Natalie to have the wherewithal and to respond properly and to actually get her child and husband out of the car ... it's pretty tremendous.' - Rick Mercer

"We should have just called," Natalie replied, laughing. "We're big fans and we're really glad you did that segment because that's what helped [us] focus."

Mercer said during his demonstration, he tried kicking out a window in the sinking vehicle, but it didn't work. Having something in the car to smash out the glass is crucial, he said.

Even under controlled circumstances, with an ambulance standing by and a frogman in the water, it was a frightening experience as the water came rushing upward, he said. 

Car escape tool

A Saskatchewan mom says car-escape gadgets like this should be in every vehicle. (CBC)

"For someone like Natalie to have the wherewithal and to respond properly and to actually get her child and husband out of the car ... it's pretty tremendous."

Natalie noted that after a particularly rainy summer, there's a lot of standing water alongside Saskatchewan's highways.

She's encouraging everyone to get a window-punch tool and to come up with an escape plan in case what happens to her family happens to them.