Airbags may have prevented teens from escaping sinking car in Top Golf Way crash

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:
The car after it was pulled out of the pond. Credit: WINK News

Investigators have revealed that airbags may have prevented the five teens from escaping a Kia Forte after it landed into a retention pond off Top Golf Way in Fort Myers.

Kristi Neroni with the Fort Myers Police Department pointed out that it was dark. There were five people inside a small car, and every airbag inside the car deployed when it hit an embankment before crashing into the water.

The five crash victims. CREDIT: WINK News

Neroni told WINK News the side curtain airbags also deployed, which may have prevented the teens from escaping through the shattered side-rear window.

A demonstration from the IIHS shows the deployment of the side curtain airbags.

Water was rushing inside the car from the shattered window, according to investigators. The impact of the car with the embankment also caused one of the teen’s cell phones to call 911.

The safety feature was on an iPhone belonging to Breanna Coleman. The call disconnected seconds after the operator answered. Investigators said the sound of water could be made out during the call.

The police report shows all five teens were discovered in the back seat of the car. According to investigators, the teens could have been trying to escape through the rear of the car, or staying in the part of the car where there was still air.

Investigators also told WINK News it would have been extremely difficult to do, but if the teens would have waited until the car was completely filled with water, they may have been able to open the doors at that point.

Neroni said the pressure would have equalized, potentially allowing them to open the doors.

The final crash report is expected to be released tomorrow.

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