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'I really thought it was over': Woman swept away by floodwaters shares harrowing story

The flooding happened in a wash that is only signaled with "Dip" signs in the north Valley.

NEW RIVER, Ariz. — Nearly two weeks after Bonnie Schemp was caught in floodwaters, her damaged car still has water in the glove box and cup holders from that day.

In broad daylight, it’s clear that Cloud Road, east of 7th Street in the north Valley, dips. But on a rainy day in the late hours of Aug. 31, that was not as clear.

“The water was so high up that the road looked flat to me,” Schemp told 12News. “I never saw it until I was in it.”

Schemp was driving home from work – a relatively new job – so she took a different route. In a matter of seconds, she went from driving to being pulled by the water.

“When I hit the water, the whole front end went under and the water came up the whole car,” Schemp said. “The car popped back up and the water was up to [the side mirror]. There was nothing I could do.”

As her car was dragged into a narrow wash, her vehicle filled up with water. The electrical system was damaged, which didn’t allow her to roll down her window to get out.

Schemp climbed to the back of her SUV. By this point, she said her car had become lodged under a bridge in the wash and her back window was broken by the impact. This gave her a small gap to put her head out of the vehicle, but it wasn’t big enough for her to get out. Another driver was also swept away.

“When that pickup truck came floating toward me, and there was a guy on the bridge, I handed him my bag; I said, ‘Here’s my ID if I don’t get out,” she recalled. “I really thought it was over.”

Schemp called 911. She was ultimately rescued by firefighters, who climbed on the roof of her car, pulled a side door open, and helped her out.

That experience was traumatizing for her, she told 12News. But it’s something she believes shouldn’t have happened.

“I’m a bus driver who is trained to never, ever, ever drive into water,” Schemp said. “I didn’t see it. The way the road is configured, and it’s pitched black, and it was pouring down rain. You can’t see.”

Driving through Cloud Road there are “Dip” signs that signal a drop in the road, but nothing that mentions the wash.

“If they would at least put signs, that would help,” Schemp said. “It’s a busy road. It should be marked.”

12News reached out to Maricopa County for comment, who oversees the road. In a statement, a spokesperson said they don’t have records that indicate the dips need flooding signs but will investigate to see if the signs are needed.

The county encourages the public to notify them of roadway concerns by using the Notify MCDOT app.

As Schemp waits for something to be put up, neighbors are helping her fundraise for a new car, which she also used to transport animals for her cat rescue, Leo Feline Foundation.

“I don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” Schemp said. “Next time it might not turn out so well, with no injuries.”

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