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Trapped in a Sinking Car

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Getting out is the first part. Explaining this to the insurance agency is the second.

"His beloved car will be his grave."
Johnson, Transporter 3

Want to show a character's struggle for survival in a dangerous Drowning Pit situation that is easy to set up? Look no further, simply have the victim trapped in a car shooting off a cliff or bridge straight into a large body of water below. Often preceded by malfunctioning brakes, blown tires, an incapacitated driver or the car being rammed off by another vehicle.

Bonus points if the car goes into a slow-motion fall once in mid-air. For added drama, the seatbelts may jam up or a passenger's limb gets stuck on impact.

Favorite trope for villains who want to get rid of a character who knows too much and needs to be silenced in a non-suspicious way. If executed successfully, the victim might end up never being found.

Truth in Television in the sense that plunging a car into water can be very, very dangerous. The pressure of the water against the door could make it physically impossible to open if the passenger does not open the door immediately. Indeed, the pressure of the water against the window may make it impossible to open via conventional means, whether it's a manual crank or electric. There are two ways out of the situation: Soft Glass (which can be invoked by using a tool meant to shatter tempered glass) or waiting for the pressure differential between the inside and outside to stabilize, which won't happen until the cabin is filled to the brim. Watch MythBusters demonstrating this trope in episode Underwater Car and Inverted Underwater Car.

Subtrope of Death Trap. Sometimes averted in fiction when the car turns into an Amphibious Automobile.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In ERASED, Satoru is trapped in the killer's car, unable to take off his seatbelt, and the killer casually pushes it into a freezing lake and leaves Satoru to drown. It nearly works, instead plunging Satoru into a fifteen-year coma.
    • Odokawa has nightmares about drowning in a car, which turn out to be flashbacks to a childhood incident in which his mother tried to kill the whole family by driving their car into the ocean.
    • In the final episode, Odokawa drives his taxi off a bridge and plunges into the water, where he lies, passively, seemingly accepting his death as it fills up with water, until Shirokawa dives in to save him, breaking the car window and carrying him out.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Lamput episode "Water" mostly takes place in Fat Doc and Slim Doc's car, with a thirsty Lamput in the back being driven to their lab from a desert road. The car eventually falls over a cliff and into the ocean, where it starts to flood. The docs go to the back of the vehicle with Lamput, who consumes the water that fills the car; the docs follow suit, and the car later floats to the surface, where Lamput and the scientists continue their chase swimming.

    Comic Books 
  • Rivers of London: Body Work starts off with a man drowning after his car goes into the Thames. It turns out that the car had recently had its engine replaced with one from another car of the same make that had been possessed by a malign entity, which had been broken up for parts by the mechanic the car's owner, Celeste Mapstone, had taken it to with a request to destroy it. At the end, the same fate nearly befalls Celeste's sister Kim, possessed by the same entity, and two of the sisters' friends when Kim, under the entity's control, drives the last car with a part from the possessed one into the duck pond by the Mapstone house. Fortunately, Nightingale arrives immediately afterwards and uses magic to rip the top off the car, saving their lives.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy:
    • The Brow killed the treacherous Summer sisters by forcing their cab off a bridge into the river. They were trapped inside and drowned.
    • A 2014 story ends with criminal siblings Silver and Sprocket Nitrate locked inside a car at the bottom of a lake — where Sprocket had deliberately driven them after her brother struck her. The story cuts away before they actually drown, but they aren't reported as living either.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Big Hero 6, Wasabi's car ends up going off a pier after fleeing from Yokai. Fortunately, the damage the car has sustained during the chase allows for an easy exit, and Baymax is able to discard the armor Hiro made for him and act as a flotation device.
  • This is how Kat's parents perish in the opening scene of Wendell & Wild, with only Kat herself managing to escape the vehicle and be pulled to safety.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Atomic Blonde. Lorraine has seemingly escaped pursuit with Spyglass when the car she's driving is suddenly rammed off the road into the river. The car has been shot full of holes so there's no chance of an air pocket forming, and Spyglass gets his foot caught and Lorraine is unable to free it, so he drowns.
  • In Beetlejuice, the Maitlands accidentally drive off a bridge and drown at the beginning of the film; the rest is about their ghosts haunting the new residents of their house.
  • Downplayed in Big Fish. Will Bloom's car gets caught in rain so intense that it is submerged by the ensuing flood. However, the cabin appears sealed off and Will gets to enjoy the underwater world.
  • In Blade Runner 2049, K saves Deckard from drowning as the latter is tied up in Luv's submerged spinner.
  • In Blow Out, a car tire gets shot which sends the car into a river. The hero observes the accident and dives in to save the female lead who almost drowns.
  • In The Bourne Supremacy, Bourne's car goes careening off a pier due to the assassin that is trying to kill them. He escapes, but his girlfriend got fatally shot in the process.
  • Carnival of Souls: The movie opens with a car driving off a bridge during a drag race. One of the car's three passengers — our protagonist — manages to survive but she doesn't know how or why. Turns out she didn't.
  • Luisa Rey's beetle in Cloud Atlas is being pushed off a bridge to prevent her from exposing industry secrets. She manages to escape from the sinking vehicle in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
  • Double Jeopardy: Libby is tied to a car in handcuffs; as she tries to escape the car, she drives into the lake, sinking rapidly.
  • Final Destination 2: Kimberly has a vision of someone with bloody hands in a submerging van and realizes that Isabella was never meant to die in the pile-up. She later realizes the person in her vision was herself and immerses a van in a lake to drown herself. Kimberly is rescued by Burke and resuscitated by Kalarjian, which was her actual premonition, thus granting her new life.
  • In The Game (1997), Nicholas' car is plunged off a pier as part of the super-scary "game" to make his life more exciting. He manages to escape by pulling down the window using a crank that was left in his possession earlier on.
  • Invoked in Inception, when the team's van is driven off a bridge to make them wake up from a deeper dream state. Though everyone is equipped with oxygen devices, Cobb and Saito had to be Left for Dead.
  • Del Spooner has a mistrust of robots in I, Robot because he ended up in a car accident which caused his car to be fused (thanks to the speed of cars at the time) to one with a little girl inside (her parents apparently died instantly) and end up in the water. A passing robot (which automatically intervened thanks to the first law 1) could only save one of them and rescued Spooner (damaging his arm in the process), who had a slightly higher chance of survival, despite his pleas to save the girl (since the first law overrode the second law 2). This situation is the root of his hatred towards robots - even though prioritizing treatment for people in accidents is very much a real thing, called Triage, Spooner felt that a human rescuer would try to save a child over an adult no matter how futile the attempt would be.
  • James Bond:
    • Bond had to escape one of these in A View to a Kill. He is able to open the car door once the cabin is flooded with water. Bond then realizes that he cannot surface immediately because the baddies are waiting ashore, so he opens the wheel valve and inhales the out-rushing air.
    • Invoked in Licence to Kill. While in custody, villain Franz Sanchez offers $2 million to anyone willing to help him escape. Naturally, some baddies jump at the call. As Sanchez is being transported across a bridge, the armoured truck is forced into the water where scuba divers rescue him from the back of the truck.
    • A variation in No Time to Die, where Bond and Felix Leiter are left to die on a sinking cargo ship by a traitorous CIA agent. Bond escapes, Leiter, having also been shot by the agent, doesn't.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: When the volcano erupts, Claire and Franklin try to hide from a hungry dinosaur in the gyrosphere and end up rolling off a cliff into the ocean. The next minute and a half is one take from the inside as they scramble to get out while water rushes inside, volcanic debris splashes around them and Owen swims down to help them escape.
  • In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Harry tries to free a girl from the trunk of a sinking car. His desperate attempt to Shoot Out the Lock of the trunk results in giving the girl a headshot. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940 Film Serial). A variation is used for an end-of-chapter Cliffhanger when The Hero and Damsel in Distress are in a diving chamber and an underwater explosion breaks a porthole. The air pocket formed as the water rushes in leads to more plausible survival than some cliffhangers.
  • Nemo Nobody's car in Mr. Nobody loses control and falls into the bottom of a river after a bird crashed against the windshield.
  • In Paddington 2, the titular bear gets trapped in a train car sinking into a river. Mary dives after him but they both cannot get the locked train door to open. Cue the Big Damn Heroes moment for Knuckles and his friends.
  • At the climax of Night Moves, Joey Ziegler dies when his plane sinks into the Atlantic.
  • Raising Cain: Cain watches his victim wake up and then start to sink into the river in a locked car.
  • In Strange Brew, the McKenzie brothers' van is sabotaged and they careen off a pier. When police scuba divers later attempt a recovery, they find the van's inhabitants inside 'drinking' air from all the empty beer bottles they have.
  • In a The Dog Bites Back moment in Sunset, Alperin's badly abused chauffeur Arthur drives the car containing Alperin and himself off the pier and into the marina. Alperin manages to escape the car but Arthur can't swim and has to be saved from drowning by Tom Mix.
  • Superman:
    • Superman: The Movie offers an unusual and disturbing case of Car Sinking in Dirt. Lois Lane is off somewhere in the desert of the American Southwest when an earthquake fault opens up and swallows her car. She is then buried under an avalanche of dirt.
    • In Man of Steel, a young Clark Kent saves a bus of his classmates from meeting a watery fate despite the wishes of his adopted father to remain incognito.
  • In The Thieves, the police van drives into the harbor when the thieves attempt to escape. Everyone manages to get out when it hits the water, except for Pepsee, who ends up handcuffed to the inside of the van and is trapped in the sinking van.
  • In Transporter 3, the hero drives his car off a bridge and into a river in order to evade the bullets coming at him. He manages to escape the sinking car by smashing a window.
  • In Terminator: Dark Fate, Sarah and Dani are trapped in a Humvee that has dropped into a reservoir. The pressure issue gets resolved by the pursuing terminator using his superpowers to rip out one of the doors. Sarah ejects a parachute onto him which gives her and Dani a chance to exit the car and surface.
  • Played for laughs in The Three Stooges: The Movie where everyone, including the stooges, Teddy, his father, Lynda, and Mac, are stuck in the car as it sinks into a lake. It was caused by Curly's rat Nippy. Curly farts in the car after he ate some lobster with Pepto-Bismo. This gave Moe an idea, he uses some waterproof matches to light a fire and blew up the car so everyone can get out.
  • In Trick 'r Treat, the "Halloween Schoolbus Massacre" is about a group of disturbed kids who were murdered by their bus driver via driving their school bus into a flooded quarry.
  • The heroine in Underworld (2003) passes out at the wheel from a loss of blood, sinking into the river together with Michael.
  • In Unknown (2011), due to a freak accident in Berlin traffic, the hero's taxi goes off a bridge and into the river Spree. He hits his head on the window and goes unconscious as the car sinks deeper and deeper into the water. Gladly, his taxi driver is a Bad Ass Bystander and manages to free herself and then pull Martin out through the cab's rear window.
  • War of the Worlds (2005): The ship carrying Ray and his family capsizes with all of the survivors going into the water, some trapped in cars.
  • In the climax of What Lies Beneath, Claire's truck careers down an embankment into the lake, where it dislodges Madison's car. Disturbed by the debris, Madison's corpse floats toward Norman and Claire and avenges her own death, drowning Norman and allowing Claire to swim to the surface.
  • In When Eight Bells Toll, Ruthless Modern Pirates open fire on a search-and-rescue helicopter, killing the pilot. The helicopter crashes onto the base of a sea cliff and Anthony Hopkins' character tries to get out, only for the helicopter to tip over and sink, with the pirates turning up in a motorboat to make sure no-one gets out alive. So he uses the dead pilot's oxygen bottle and face mask to keep breathing until the pirates have given up and left.
  • An airplane version in Wonder Woman (2017) is how Diana meets Steve Trevor, after the stolen biplane he's flying crashes into the sea off Themyscira. The biplane breaks up around him, but Steve's legs are trapped by the steering column, and he's drowning when Diana dives into the water and effortlessly pulls the column free.

  • At the climax of Mildred D. Taylor's Mississippi Bridge (a companion story to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry), a commuter bus skids out and crashes off a bridge and into a rain-swollen river. A Heroic Bystander jumps in to try and assist any survivors, but by the time he's able to get into the bus, he finds only bodies.
  • Nicholas Pileggi's Wiseguy based on Henry Hill's exploits in the mafia has a narration of their disposing of a body via plunging the car it's in into a pond.
  • In one of the Alex Rider books, the villain orders a sniper to shoot out a tire of the car he's in so the car will go off a bridge into a lake. Being Alex Rider, he survives and ensures the other two people in the car do as well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alias: In the Back Story, Sidney's mother died when she drowned in her car. It was discovered after she died that she was a KGB operative. During one episode, Sidney has to temporarily fake her death, and she does so by driving her car off a pier, then surviving by breathing the air in the tires. This clues her in to the fact that her mother might not have drowned as everyone thought.
  • On As the World Turns, after kidnapping and raping Jack, his crazy ex-wife Julia decided to cap things off by leaving him tied up in his car and pushing it into a lake.
  • Happens to Gereon and Charlotte in Babylon Berlin season 2 episode 7. Their car is forced off the road and into a lake by Bruno in his truck. The car is sinking beneath the water and settles on the lakebed. Charlotte's arm is stuck, but neither of them is able to free her as the glass begins to buckle under the water pressure. Once the water has filled the car, Gereon opens the driver's door and goes for the surface attempting to find a lever with which to free Charlotte, but fails, frantically diving back into the water and going for a mouth-to-mouth exchange of air. Charlotte gives up despite Gereon's attempts to stop her. She gets a Disney Death resurrection in the next episode though.
  • Batwoman (2019). In the second episode the mad supervillain Alice is being transported to Arkham Asylum when a bomb blasts the prison van off a bridge into the Gotham River. Thinking this is a second chance to save her sister, Kate Kane decides to Save the Villain using some handy bat-gadgets, a decision she comes to regret, not least because it tips off Alice that her sister is Batwoman.
  • An early episode of Baywatch had lovebirds Eddie and Shauni trapped in an armored truck that had plunged off the pier.
  • In the final moments of the Cold Case episode "The Thin Blue Line", a perpetrator runs Lily's car off a bridge. In the next episode, "Into the Blue", she manages to break the window to escape but starts having bizarre hallucinations in the aftermath of the incident. In the final moments of the episode, she realizes that everything that happened since the crash has been a hallucination and she's still in her sinking car. She is subsequently rescued by divers.
    • In an earlier episode, a body is found in a submerged car. It's eventually revealed that the victim was in an interracial lesbian relationship, and she and her girlfriend were being pursued by the girlfriend's insanely possessive brother when they found that the bridge ahead of them was out. With nowhere else to go and unwilling to risk being caught by the brother, the pair decided to commit suicide together by driving off a bridge — only this was a 1930s car, and one of the girls was able to get out, but the other died on impact, and the survivor then spent the rest of her life battling guilt over the fact that her girlfriend died and she didn't.
  • CSI:
    • During a bad rainstorm in "Lady Heather's Box", a sleazy girlfriend of Eddie Willows' abandons Lindsay in her car, which has crashed into a canal and is rapidly sinking. Fortunately, the little girl has the wherewithal to grab a cell phone and call Catherine, who is able to rescue her in the nick of time.
    • In "Bloodsport", one Victim of the Week is a woman who is trapped in a sinking car by a jammed seatbelt, and who drowns after she accidentally shoots a man who is attempting to rescue her.
  • CSI: NY:
    • Mac in the season 5 premiere, "Veritas". A hostage-taker kidnaps him and abandons him and the car in the river. Naturally, Mac escapes.
    • In "Party Down," a killer locks 20 partygoers in the back of a semi-truck and deliberately drives it into the Hudson. Fortunately, only four people drown.
  • Daredevil (2015): In S3xE4, Wilson Fisk attempts to kill Matt by having a bunch of inmates and guards on his payroll attack him in a staged prison riot. When that fails, Fisk activates a backup plan and has one of his henchmen replace the taxi driver who brought Matt to the prison. The replacement driver gets the cab up to speed, then bails out and leaves the driverless cab to take Matt on a one-way trip into the Hudson. We don't see Matt's escape, but when the police recover the cab the next day, there is no corpse.
  • Dexter. In S8xE4, Dexter and Debra crash into the river as Dexter is hit unconscious.
  • Doctor Who: Nearly occurs to the Doctor and a UNIT private in "The Sontaran Stratagem", where the Sontarans have hijacked the jeep's satnav system and drive it towards a river. Thankfully, the Doctor is able to Logic Bomb the satnav, stopping the jeep just before it goes into the water. The Sontarans had previously done it to a journalist who asked too many questions.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: While multiple episodes saw various characters – most often, Rosco, while chasing Bo and Luke – crash their cars into waterways, there was no risk of death as they'd always escape unscathed ... well, soaking wet, but otherwise unharmed. There were, however, a few episodes where things didn't end up so good (or at least once, as thought by some characters):
    • "The Ghost of the General Lee": In this second-season episode, Rosco pursues the General Lee – unknown to him, driven by a couple of hicks who had stolen the car while owners Bo and Luke were skinny-dipping in a nearby pond – before the car thieves drive the car into a lake. The thieves escape unharmed and, while hiding behind some tall weeds, laugh hysterically as Rosco and Enos search frantically for the Duke boys. Of course, Bo and Luke were unharmed, but Rosco and Enos presume the two Duke boys have drowned when all Enos can find is their clothes inside the submerged General Lee.
    • "Brotherly Love": From the sixth season, the climax of the episode sees a professional gambler kidnap Luke's brother, Jud (after the gambler had lost a large amount of money after Jud refused to throw a fight). While fleeing Rosco and the Duke boys, the driver of the gambler's car loses control on a sharp curve and drives into a deep lake. This leads to a very suspenseful scene where Bo and Luke risk their lives to rescue – successfully, as it turned out – Jud and the bad guys. This leads narrator Waylon Jennings to remark on the irony of the situation: The gambler lost a lot because of a Duke, but had the one thing that mattered saved (his life) because of another Duke.
  • This marked the culmination of the feud between Phil and Grant Mitchell in EastEnders. They were both in a car with Grant driving, Phil pulled a gun on him, and the car went out of control and veered into the River Thames. Phil got rescued, and Grant managed to escape off-screen.
  • Emergency! had a couple. Roy and John have to use the Jaws of Life underwater in "Séance", and another has a teenage boy trapped in his submerged car.
  • Happens on ER, after two doctors are shot at in a road rage incident. Their car goes off the bridge into the river with them and their friend trapped inside. Luckily, the windows are rolled up, so they're able to call for help before the car sinks, as well as have enough time for the rescue squad to get there before it fills with water.
  • Forever: In the episode "Skinny Dipper," mysterious caller Adam decides to prove to Henry that he really is a fellow immortal, in dramatic fashion. He kills a cabbie and steals his cab, then picks Henry up outside the precinct and kidnaps him. He locks all the doors and the barrier between passenger and driver, then drives at high speed down a pier and shoots himself in the head, his body vanishing, leaving Henry still trapped in the now completely out of control car. The car plunges into the Hudson and sinks out of sight in seconds. Thanks to the front window being shattered by the gunshot, the car fills with water rapidly, Henry desperately struggling to escape as the water rises around him, until Henry drowns. When the car is recovered later, there are ominous scratch marks left all over the inside of the passenger compartment.
  • In The Remake of The Fugitive, Lieutenant Gerard is plagued by nightmares of failing to rescue a woman in this situation. note 
  • Lethal Weapon (2016): In "Brotherly Love", Riggs is car-butted into water but manages to pull out (bloodily) even as Roger dives in to save his mate.
  • Midsomer Murders: "Dark Secrets" opens with a flashback to 1975 where a brother and sister are involved in an accident where their speeding car runs off the road and into the river; leaving them both trapped in the sinking car. This accident proves pivotal to several murders that take place 25 years later.
  • MythBusters Episodes 72: Underwater Car & 155: Inverted Underwater Car both experimented with this trope. The main takeaways:
    • If you react quickly enough to open the door while your car is still sinking, you can escape easily before the water pressure on the door traps you.
    • If you're already too deep in, commercial window-breaking tools will work exactly as advertised to get you out.
    • If you don't have such a tool, try to keep as calm as possible—eventually the pressure will even out as the car fills with water, and you'll be able to open the door and swim away; but you have to not run out of oxygen beforehand, which is harder if you panic (and even harder if you futily try to open doors and windows prematurely).
    • If the car inverts as it's sinking, all of the above becomes a lot more complicated.
  • NCIS: Happens to Gibbs and the now-grown friend of his late daughter in "Requiem".
  • Rizzoli & Isles: In "Dirty Little Secret", Jane and Maura are trapped in a wrecked car that is slowly being submerged as the water rises around them.
  • This kicks off the plot in the first episode of Smallville. Lex Luthor isn't watching as he's driving and runs Clark over, shooting off a bridge and into the lake. Clark rips the roof off of Lex's car to rescue him. Much of the rest of the series has a subplot of Lex trying to figure out how Clark did that.
  • Several times on Third Watch, ending tragically once—they get the two people in the car out safely, but the man who was locked in the trunk drowns—they'd been taken prisoner by a carjacker—and triumphantly the second time, this time with a sinking helicopter.
  • An episode of Top Gear demonstrates this trope, with Richard Hammond in the role of the unfortunate driver.
  • Vera: In "Silent Voices", the murderer attempts to dispose of his final victim by placing her in a car and rolling it off a cliff into a reservoir. Joe has to dive in to save her.
  • The X-Files episode "Nothing Important Happened Today". A female Super-Soldier lures a man into taking her home and forces his car over the edge of a bridge and into the water. She then uses her immunity to death to hold him underwater until he drowns.

  • In Eminem's "Stan", Stan purposely drives his car off a bridge into a body of water, drowning himself and his pregnant girlfriend (who he has locked in the trunk).

    Pro Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • Battlefield 4 starts its campaign mode early on with one of the player's platoon members' death by him being trapped in a car, unable to flee.
  • The fate of Devin Westin in ending C of Grand Theft Auto V. Trevor, Michael, and Franklin lock him in the trunk of one of his luxury cars and push it off a cliff into the ocean. And then the car explodes.
  • In Heavy Rain, a bad guy attempts to drown Scott Shelby and Lauren Winters, who have come too close to discovering his crimes, in their car. You play as Scott and must find a way to escape before the time runs out — if you are fast enough, you can even save the unconscious Lauren.
  • Silent Hill:

    Visual Novels 
  • In the climax of Chapter 1 of Psycholonials, Z. drives a stolen, evidence-covered police car off a pier. Unlike most examples, the underwater portion isn't shown and she escapes easily with little explanation.


    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Dream", Gumball is so mad about a dream he had where Darwin kisses his crush Penny that he and Darwin travel through their dreams to stop the kiss from happening. One of the dreams they visit has them both stuck in a car sinking in water for what's apparently been the past five days, with Darwin getting so hungry within that time that he's taken a bite out of Gumball's arm. When Darwin turns on the car's air conditioning, it drenches him and Gumball in a strange liquid that takes them to the dream they were looking for.
  • Happens towards the end of the Defenders of the Earth episode "100 Proof Highway" when alcoholic guest character Eric loses control of his car and crashes it into a lake — with himself and Jedda trapped inside. Luckily, Rick and LJ rescue them and the experience convinces Eric that he needs to quit drinking.
  • Family Guy:
    • In the episode "The Courtship of Stewie's Father", Peter and Stewie do this to Lois as a prank. Fortunately, Lois survives, and when she gets back home, she is not happy with them at all.
    • In another episode it happens to a full school bus after a banner is let loose by Peter & Mort. Every passenger on the bus is not as lucky as Lois because there are no survivors.
  • South Park: In "Butters' Very Own Episode", Butters' mom tries to drown him by locking him in the car and sending it into the river, blaming it on "some Puerto Rican guy."

    Real Life 
  • The infamous Chappaquiddick episode in which U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and Kennedy family aide Mary Jo Kopechne went plunging off a bridge leading away from Chappaquiddick Island. Kennedy escaped the car and survived; Kopechne drowned.
  • NBC News anchor Jessica Savitch was killed along with her boyfriend when he, driving away from a restaurant in a heavy rainstorm, took a wrong turn and instead of driving away on the main road, took an access road that led to a drainage canal.
  • The "Emergency Medical Dispatch" protocols designed by the company Priority Dispatch, which are used by a large number of emergency dispatch centers worldwide, introduced a specific protocol to address callers reporting sinking vehicles after a number of incidents transpired.
  • This is realized to have happened in the plethora of Finally Found the Body cases that involve a missing person's car being found submerged in a body of water, with the person's remains still in it.
  • On a tragic Father's Day in 2005, Robert Farquharson drove his car into a dam in the outskirts of Geelong, Victoria, Australia, and fled the scene, leaving his three sons, Jai, Tyler, and Bailey Gambino, to drown. Farquharson hated his sons, as well as his ex-wife Cindy Gambino, and drowned them to spite her. He got three life sentences. Gambino would go on to be a spokesperson against domestic violence.
  • In another Australian case, a mentally ill man drove into the docks in Port Lincoln, South Australia, along with his infant sons in a Pater Familicide around January 2016, leaving his heartbroken wife behind.
  • After spending 9 days in the fall of 1994 claiming that her children had been abducted by a carjacker, Susan Smith finally confessed to invoking this on them by allowing her car to roll down a ramp into a lake with them strapped in their car seats and unable to escape note 
  • Following the airing of the above Mythbusters episode, a truck driver wrote in to explain how it saved his life; he had a seizure as he was driving across a bridge and came to when he was already in the lake. Remembering what they said about keeping calm and waiting for the car to fill up, he opened the air vents to quicken the process and kept enough of a level head to wait for the point where he could open the door and swim to safety.


Video Example(s):


Damsel Saved from Drowning

The hero observes a car driving off a road and into a river. He dives in to save the female lead who almost drowns.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TrappedInASinkingCar

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