Get AccuWeather alerts right in your browser!
Enable Notifications
Flash Flood Watch
...FLASH FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM ...

Pregnant woman, 31, and 9-year-old son swept away by rising floodwaters

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
July 12, 2019, 5:03:00 PM EDT


Severe thunderstorms tracked over the Northeast late Thursday, dumping heavy rain and producing deadly flash flooding in some parts of the region. Areas of southeastern Pennsylvania were pounded by several inches of rain over a short period of time, resulting in dangerous flood situations.

In Douglass Township, Pennsylvania, local officials confirm that a pregnant woman and her 9-year-old son were found dead in their car on Thursday night. During the storms on Thursday afternoon, their car was overcome by the rising rapids and they were swept about a half-mile downstream in the Manatawny Creek.

The victims were later identified by family members as Pam Vera Snyder and her son, Preston. The mother and son were inside the car around 4:30 p.m. EDT Thursday on Grist Mill and Locust roads in Douglass Township when they became surrounded by rising floodwaters. According to The Reading Eagle, Snyder was 31 years old.

(Facebook/ Douglass Township Police Department)

Heavy floodwaters inundate roads in Douglass Township, Pennsylvania, resulting in a number of water rescues and at least two fatalities on Thursday, July 12.

(Facebook/ Douglass Township Police Department)

Heavy floodwaters inundate roads in Douglass Township, Pennsylvania, resulting in a number of water rescues and at least two fatalities on Thursday, July 12.

(Facebook/ Douglass Township Police Department)

Heavy floodwaters inundate roads in Douglass Township, Pennsylvania, resulting in a number of water rescues and at least two fatalities on Thursday, July 12.

(Facebook/ Douglass Township Police Department)

Heavy floodwaters inundate roads in Douglass Township, Pennsylvania, resulting in a number of water rescues and at least two fatalities on Thursday, July 12.

("Good Morning America" via ABC NewsOne)

Heavy rain floods roads in southeastern Pennsylvania on Thursday, July 12.

(Twitter/ Laura Bargielski)

Flooding in Delmont, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, July 12.


Police told NBC10 that Snyder was on the phone with 911 as water was rushing inside the car. The Reading Eagle reported that Snyder told a 911 dispatcher water was flooding into the car. She was reportedly on the line with 911 for 45 minutes before the call dropped and her vehicle was swept away. Rescue crews searched for the victims for hours near the train tracks along Manatawny Drive. Rescuers later found their bodies inside their vehicle on Thursday night.

A family member said that Snyder was seven months pregnant with a baby girl and was also planning to get married in September, NBC10 reports. At the time of the incident, Snyder was on her way home to Boyertown, about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

"They said she was just a wonderful, wonderful human being, just a wonderful sister and daughter and fiancee," Boyertown Salvation Army Lt. Joseph Smith told NBC10. "She was just well loved."


On Friday morning, the Douglass Township Police later wrote an appreciation post on Facebook, thanking local agencies for working together during the severe weather.

"I want to thank the Douglass Township E.O.C., Gilbertsville Fire & Rescue, Gilbertsville Area Community Ambulance Service, Douglass Twp. Road Crew, Gilbertsville Auto Body, and all of the officers that were out last night in the down pours and severe flooding," the Douglass Township Police wrote. "The cooperative effort last night was very much appreciated."

Over southeastern Pennsylvania, a tropical air mass combined with a weak front crossing the area, resulting in very heavy rainfall. Some places picked up more than 4 inches of rain in just a few hours, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tom Kines.

“Anytime there is a month’s worth of rain over such a short time period of time, there are going to be flooding problems,” Kines said.

Several miles away from Douglass Township, New Hanover received over 4.6 inches of rain on Thursday afternoon. This is close to the town’s total rainfall for the month of July, which is around 5 inches.

The water gushed into the area so quickly, catching some drivers off guard and many were stranded in their cars, which were left submerged by the floodwaters along roadways. Local officials performed a number of water rescues to help those that found themselves in a precarious situation.

RELATED:
ICYMI: Severe storms swamp New Orleans ahead of Barry; Historic flooding in Nebraska turns fatal, forces hundreds to evacuate
Severe storms, flooding downpours to ramp up in northeastern US prior to week's end
What you should do if you get stuck driving in floodwaters

Just one foot of moving water can sweep a vehicle away, leaving occupants in a potentially dangerous situation. More than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into dangerous floodwaters.

On the other side of the state, in Pittsburgh, flooding inundated the streets and caused travel disruptions. The Pittsburgh area had already been hit hard by one round of drenching thunderstorms on Thursday morning, only to be hit with several more storms later on Thursday. Up to 3 inches of rain fell in as many hours in the region.

This front moved into the Plains on Tuesday, releasing heavy rain and thunderstorms on the region. The front then moved east and caused severe weather from the Great Lakes to northeastern Texas on Wednesday. It proceeded to move into the eastern United States on Thursday accompanied by some heavy rain and gusty thunderstorms, according to Kines.

Report a Typo

Comments

Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News