Breanna Pegg feared she'd die after car plunged into river

A Saskatoon woman tells CBC her story about losing control of her car and driving off Saskatoon's Circle Drive Bridge into the icy river below.

Nurse was driving to work in Saskatoon when her car hit an icy patch and launched off bridge

Paramedics carry Breanna Pegg to safety after her car wound up in an icy river. (CBC)

Breanna Pegg doesn’t remember exactly how her silver Acura launched like a missile off the Circle Drive North Bridge into the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon.

She does remember seeing river water through her cracked windshield, and thinking that she was going to die.

“I remember really well the feeling that I was going over the bridge into the river,” she said.

“And my thoughts were, ‘My god, I’m going to die.’"

Breanna Pegg's car is still under the ice of the South Saskatchewan River. (CBC)
The 23-year-old nurse was heading east on the bridge on Dec. 30 when the incident happened just after the noon hour. It’s a route that she’d taken many times.

Pegg says that she wasn't speeding, drinking or texting. She says that she felt her Acura hit a piece of ice and then start fishtailing.

"It slipped a tiny bit and I thought, I'll correct this. But when I corrected it, it gained speed and momentum," she said.

Pegg doesn’t remember the car flying through the air, or the impact with the water. She recalls only seeing a shattered windshield in front of her, and knowing she had to get out.

I got this, I'm good now.- Breanna Pegg

The car was slowly sinking and the power windows wouldn’t open. She managed to slide over to the middle of the seat, get her legs up and kick out the windshield.

“The car was basically just sitting floating in the water at that point. I was just so relieved, I got this, I'm good now, I can get out of this car,” she said.

Her adrenaline was pumping to the point that she didn’t realize that she’d broken her collarbone.

Crawling across the ice

Pegg crawled onto the hood, and then the roof as the car tilted tail-up “like the Titanic."

"When I realized that was happening, I slowly lowered myself into the water and swam over to the edge of where the ice was."

She managed to crawl onto the ice, then dragged herself on her stomach toward shore.

"As I was going along the ice, that was the worst part about it, that was when I felt the coldest and my hands hurt because they got all cut up from trying to break open and my shoulder was killing me – my clavicle was broken," she said.

I've got to keep going.- Breanna Pegg

"I remember just stopping and lying there, so exhausted and sore, and a guy yelling, 'You can't stop, you gotta keeping going.' And yes, I thought, I can't stop. I've got to keep going." 

Police and a passerby were able to get her onto the shore.

A police officer shows where snow was piled against a barrier on the Circle Drive Bridge. (CBC)
The police investigated the accident and concluded that Pegg's sliding car had launched over the bridge barrier when it slid into snow piled against the guardrail.

The crash triggered a debate on snow removal on the city's bridges. Crews now remove snow completely, rather than pile it alongside the barriers after a snowfall.

Snow now cleared off bridges

“It's so nice to see that snow's gone from there," she said.

"I can’t tell you how much I'd rather have just bounced off that barricade."

Her car will not be recovered from the river until spring.

Meanwhile, Pegg says she's since driven over the bridge and past the scene of the accident.

"It's not fun, I start shaking, it just reminds me of that feeling that I'm gonna die."

It's a feeling that she hopes will pass with time.