HAYNES: Again, it just looked like wet road. And the next thing I knew that I had come to an abrupt stop and that all of a sudden my car was floating. I didn’t know to what extent of danger I was in until later on as it unfolded on me.
As the car sort of veered off to the right, I realized, “Okay, well, I’m going to be up into about chest high water and I just need to kind of like gather my stuff up. And then I’m trying to figure out how am I going to let Labor and Delivery know I’m going to be late, because now I’ve got to get back to the house and change cars and all this.
Again, still not any idea of what danger I’m in. I had drove into about 15, maybe 20, feet of water. I was looking around in the car and it started filling up around my feet. I’m not panicking, I’m not really in danger. I don’t feel I’m in danger. I start gathering my keys, my wallet. I start looking around, and then I said “Well let me open the car door.” And when I went to open the car door, I couldn’t open the car door. So then I thought, “Okay well that’s not too bad, I can try to go out the window; I tried to roll the window down, they’re power locks and power windows, I couldn’t roll the window down. Still not panicking yet, just yet. Something told me to turn the car off and then turn the ignition back on, and when I did that, I don’t know what possessed me to open up the passenger side window, but I pushed the button and the window rolled down. That’s when the car started tilting more in an angle towards the engine going downward. I guess that’s the weight of the car—the car really started filling up then. I’m still not panicking because I’m still thinking I’m only going to be up to waist high water and the car’s going to settle back down.
By the time I actually got out of the car, just before I went to get out of the car, I reached for one more item, which was my firearm. And as I went to climb totally out of the car and went to reach for the trunk of the car, the car just dropped and disappeared. And as it was dropping straight down my foot was on a tire well, so I pushed myself away because I didn’t want to get sucked down by the car. That’s when I realized I was in trouble.
And I also at the same time realized: I don’t, I can’t swim. And I saw this one particular tree and I started heading for this one tree. I couldn’t see anything else, I had tunnel vision at this point, for this one tree. I think I made it about halfway to the tree and I went down again. When I came up the second time, that’s when I realized, you know what, I think I’m gonna die right here.
I’m clinging onto a tree, trying to climb up into the tree. I had no strength to climb up into the tree and I kept falling back into the water. And I thought,”Man, this really sucks. I’m alive, but this sucks.”
Just as I was climbing into the tree, I went to reach for a particular branch, and low and behold, the branch broke. As I got into the tree I was in a weird position into the tree. I was totally out of the water but I was in a weird position, kinda hanging at an angle. So it wasn’t a very comfortable position, but yet, I was safe.
In the ordeal at some point, I had lost my contacts, I guess when I went under the second time, they had washed from my eyes, so I couldn’t see. I knew I was safe, but I couldn’t see.
But I was trying to get somebody’s attention, so I decided to shoot just straight up in the air.
PILCHER: So your firearm, obviously, even wet, was still working.
HAYNES: It was working. It jammed on me twice. I have a military background so I cleared the jam.
PILCHER: About how far were you from the policeman when you were—?
HAYNES: I’d say, maybe 100 yards? By the time I fired everything, nobody; like I said, I could hear the police officer telling people, “Stay away, turn around.” But I’m sure he had his windows rolled up because it was raining.
And that’s when I realized to myself, I am gonna be here all night. Nobody’s going to know that I’m here, because the traffic has ceased, Nobody’s going to come this way. I had one more round and I saw this figure, walking on the highway. And I thought, “Wow what is this?” So I fired my weapon one more time and the person stopped in his tracks. And I yelled for him and I said, “Do you see me?” And he said, “Yes.” I said, “Help.”
At the same time, he saw a First Call Ambulance which was heading towards Dickson.
He tried to swim through the trees, and he couldn’t do it. I heard him say to his partner, “This is too much, I cannot do this.” And so he called the fire department. It took them an hour, from the time that he called and they got me out of the tree, an hour to rescue me totally out of the tree. So I was in the tree for six and a half hours total, with the rain beating down on me.