Gullywasher Swallows Car At Bad Luck Branch

Published 4:09 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

CUMBERAND — The name of the stream is Bad Luck Branch.

A private dirt drive located near Rochelle, in southern Cumberland County, used to cross the small stream that is so ominously named. But, with the deluge of rain the area received Thursday night, bad luck gained the upper hand.

At 3:48 a.m., Farmville Police received a 911 call.

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The caller was following behind another vehicle when the car went into what he suspected to be a sinkhole. He said the vehicle was upside down and submerging quickly, according to a dispatch report.

The drop was deep enough that the car went in nose first. Dispatch was advised that it was 15 to 20-feet deep.

There were two people trapped inside, the caller said.

By the time Randolph and Farmville Volunteer Fire Departments arrived, the driver and passenger had climbed out of the vehicle to safety.

The driver was able to climb up the car and out of the hole, says Farmville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Andrew Goss. Both he and Terry Spillman, deputy chief of Randolph Volunteer Fire Department, reported that no one was injured

Because it was on private land, there wasn’t much they could do, according to Spillman, except put up some yellow tape to mark the road closed.

At some point Thursday night, the culvert guiding Bad Luck Branch under the road couldn’t handle all the water, Spillman believes, forcing the water over the top of the road and eventually washing it out.

Friday morning, a white car was laying upside down in the rushing water, covered in red dirt and tree branches, about 20 feet down stream from the wash out.

“No pun intended, but we defiantly had a gullywasher,” Cumberland Sherriff Darrell Hodges told The Herald Friday morning.

The amount of rain received Thursday night was unprecedented; 4.17 inches fell, according to WFLO radio station, the area’s official National Weather Cooperative Observer, breaking the greatest daily rainfall ever recorded for the month of July.

According to Hodges, as of noon on Friday, nearby Mahan and River Roads were also flooded. In fact, he said River Road had received extensive damage.

Preston Lancaster, a local attorney, owns the land where the washed out drive is located. He currently has no plans yet regarding repair of the road, except to block it as soon as possible, so no one else will have to worry about making a quick trip down to Bad Luck Branch by accident.