SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Two young men are dead after floodwaters swept their vehicle off the road in Grovespring early this morning.
Another man managed to escape, only to learn hours later that his friend and brother had drowned. The man tells KOLR10 his group of friends were coming back from Springfield around midnight when they went over a hill. They were hit by water and tried to slow down but were swept away.
“My brother, he’s like it’s deep. And he can’t swim,” Preston Holt said.
Just hours after his life changed forever, Preston Holt is sharing his experience with KOLR10.
Preston said five people were in the car when it was swept away by floodwaters. He said everyone climbed out of the car to try to get to safety.
“I wrapped around a tree. After I wrapped around the tree I stood there and I just made a quick prayer, I said please just let us all live lord. Please. The water was up to my chin. The current had my legs going sideways it was pulling me so hard,” Preston said.
During this time Preston said his phone was submerged in water but somehow he managed to make a call for help.
“When I was floating down the river hitting the trees you could just see shadows of your friends and you could see shadows of the trees and that’s it. You couldn’t see two feet in front of you,” Preston said.
Preston was able to get to safety.
“Five hours later they found my brother dead and nine hours later they found Alex dead.”
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said 20-year-old Devin Holt from Grovespring and 19-year-old Alex Roman-Ranelli from Springfield were found dead.
Preston said he’s never seen the area flood as it did.
“It snuck up on you. We didn’t see it. It’s nobody’s fault,” Preston said.
The Wright County Sheriff said conditions can vary during heavy rain events making low-water crossings unpredictable.
“You can cross a low water bridge with six inches of water and not have any issues, but that one time it’s changed into the perfect condition, it may lift your vehicle up and cause you to go off the low-water crossings,” Sheriff Sonny Byerley said.
“I tried to get sleep last night and every time I closed my eyes, I’d hear them screaming. I would picture them all looking at me, reaching out their hands for me to grab them and I just couldn’t reach them,” Preston said.