Skiatook Man Saves Driver From Drowning In Oil Pit

Tuesday, October 11th 2011, 8:31 pm
By: News On 6

Tara Vreeland, News On 6

SKIATOOK, Oklahoma -- A man rushed to save a Tulsa woman and her dog after she crashed her van into an oil pit, a mix of salty water and oil residue.

It happened late Monday night near Highway 11 and 126th Street North.

An employee at OK Tank Trucks heard a crash outside his house. When he looked, he saw a mini-van sinking into a 12-foot deep pool of oil and water, and a woman inside that van screaming for help.

Scot Underwood got the call just after midnight that someone had crashed into his oil pit. He rushed over and saw a white van, sinking, with the driver still inside, up to her neck in oil and salt water.

"All I was thinking was I heard some lady screaming in the van and I needed to do something to help her," Underwood said.

Underwood didn't hesitate and jumped into the thick pool.

"She was just screaming. Then she said her boy was in the back. I thought it was a baby but it was her dog," he said.

He pulled the woman from the van which was nearly submerged in the thick sludge. Underwood says drowning wasn't the only danger. The liquid is extremely flammable. But he managed to swim the woman to safety when paramedics arrived on scene.

"Oh it's very tough. It's almost like syrup. It's very thick. Very hard to stay up," Underwood said.

One of the woman's dogs died in the accident, but employee Virgil Steel said another was saved.

"We got him and he got out. He's wandering around her somewhere. We tried to catch him last night but he won't let you near him," Steel said.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol identified the driver as 58-year-old Maria Sivils. Troopers say Sivils never hit the brakes and why she plunged into the pool is still a mystery.

The driver somehow veered off of highway 11, drove through two fences, before crashing into the wall and into the oil pit.

"I just couldn't believe it. I didn't think anything like that could happen," Steel said.

OHP says Sivils wasn't seriously injured. They say her kids are calling Underwood a hero. But Underwood politely dismisses the title.

"Oh no I think I'm just an average person. I think anyone would have done it," he said.

Steel says his boss is a good man and he didn't think twice about following Underwood into the mess to help. Steel says he's never steered him wrong.

Underwood said his wife says this is just another chapter he can add to the book he wants to write.