By Jennifer McGraw

SUTTER COUNTY (CBS13) – A young woman lived to tell after a suspected drunk driver rolled into a canal and left her for dead.

“How do you even put into words, ‘Thank you for literally saving my life,'” said Meggan Russell of Marysville.

It was emotional reunion Thursday, just six days in the hospital, for those who saved her life. For the first time, Meggan saw those who pulled her lifeless body from a car flipped in a canal. They’re calling it a walking miracle.

“No pulse, her heart was not beating, and she was not breathing,” said Sutter County Fire Battalion Chief Richard Epperson.

Epperson and California Highway Patrol Officer Steven Klippel jumped into the canal, flipped the car and grabbed Meggan through a shattered window.

“If it’s your time, it’s your time. I firmly believe that and it wasn’t Meggan’s time,” Klippel said.

Authorities said her friend Travis Stanton was driving drunk and claimed nobody else was inside after escaping himself.

“How could you just leave someone like that?” Meggan said.

Sadly, she remembers every horrifying detail that landed her gasping for air.

“I started freaking out, I punched the window,” she said, “And then I kept just banging on the trunk, but the water was just too much and I yelled one more time and I hit it just a few more times and when the water was all the way full, that’s when I just went unconscious.”

First responders said they had only seconds to save her.

“For me to hear those breaths, to know that someone was in the car and to be able to react that fast, it was a huge, huge thing that made it a different outcome than possibly what could’ve been,” Klippel said.

Thanks to a man heading to work and calling 911, officers, firefighters, and paramedics, she’s alive today.

While the emotional pain may have just begun for Meggan, she’s taking this as a lesson to make a better life for her 2-year-old son and hopes someday to be a first responder.

“I want to give back to the people who gave me a second chance because without them I wouldn’t be here,” she said

As for Stanton, he is still in jail on a $150,000 bond for felony DUI, leaving the scene, and enhanced charges likely to come for great bodily harm.


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