As a deadly tornado ripped through Texas on Saturday evening, Phillip Ocheltree left his home with his wife, infant son and 2-year-old daughter, “trying to get away from what was yet to come,” he said.
Driving in Myrtle Springs, outside Dallas, his black Chevrolet SUV hydroplaned off the highway, flipping upside down into raging floodwaters. The water moved so fast and so high Ocheltree was unable to open the partially submerged car doors.
Tom Mitchell was driving by moments later when he saw the flipped truck, not knowing if anyone was inside, he told KHOU. With lightning flashing and tornado sirens wailing, more and more people started pulling up to the truck. A group of about six onlookers rushed into the murky dangerous waters, huddling around the vehicle’s passenger side and struggling to reach inside. Mitchell, lacking the physical strength to help, captured the scene on video.
“I need a knife,” a man yells in the video, as the group of men surrounded the truck. “A sharp knife!”
Suddenly, one man notices who is trapped in the back seat: a baby boy and his 2-year-old sister.
“I got a baby!” he shouts out. “Call 911.”
With the group of rescuers steadying him through the powerful waters, the man carries the baby onto the shore. Moments later, another rescuer emerges with the 2-year-old girl, still trapped in her car seat. The baby looks a bluish gray, and neither of the two children are breathing.
At this point, Mitchell puts his phone in his pocket and begins administering CPR, thinking to himself, “this baby may not make it, this baby may not make it. No reaction, nothing is happening,” he later recalled.
A woman nearby comes over next to Mitchell and begins to pray.
“Give him breath, Lord, give him breath,” the woman says.
“Talk to me, baby,” Mitchell says as he moves on to revive the toddler. “She’s gasping, but I can’t get it out of her.”
Adults can be heard talking in panicked voices in the background.
“Don’t stop,” a man says through sobs, as the woman nearby continues to pray aloud. “Please, Lord.”
After about three minutes, the 2-year-old girl begins taking labored breaths.
“She is breathing,” Mitchell can be heard saying in the video. A woman in the background claps and says, “There she go, there she go!”
“But she’s having trouble,” Mitchell says. “She needs oxygen. She’s gasping. And the baby’s bleeding through the mouth.”
Moments later, the video cuts off.
Both of the siblings were revived and were soon treated at a nearby hospital.
“Life comes at you in a blink of an eye,” Ocheltree wrote on his Facebook. “I can’t thank you all enough who came into the water and saved my children.”
The baby, Marshall, was treated and released, and by the following day he was “in excellent condition” and “full of life,” Ocheltree wrote. His older sister, Addy, continued to recover in the hospital through Monday.
“She is stable and breathing more and more on her own but it’s all up to her as to when she is ready to wake up,” Ocheltree wrote Sunday, asking people to keep “my little bug” in their prayers.
He later wrote Addy was still under sedation but doctors hoped to remove the breathing tube this week to see if she could breathe on her own. All scans and tests appeared promising, he said.
“You have no idea how good it feels to know people were there to help,” Emily Ocheltree told “Inside Edition.” “They risked their lives to save my kids.”