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Woman says ‘Fear Factor’ saved her life

Prison guard used tips from show to escape sinking car
/ Source: The Associated Press

A prison guard who escaped a car that sank in a flooded creek credits an episode of the TV reality show “Fear Factor” with saving her life.

Debra Swaim's car was swept off the road into Cucamonga Creek during a flash flood late Tuesday. As her car sank, Swaim said she remembered a rerun episode of NBC's “Fear Factor” in which contestants had to escape from a car in the water.

Swaim said because of the show, she knew to quickly roll down her automatic windows because she wouldn't be able to open her doors underwater.

“I knew I've got to go through my window,” she said. “That has everything to do with me watching ‘Fear Factor.’”

Swaim, who called 911 twice before her cell phone was swept away, then swam to the surface and spent nearly an hour clinging to a tree above a 30 mph current before she was rescued.

She blew on a whistle attached to her prison guard uniform to attract rescuers, who didn't know her exact location.

“My feet were numb and my hands were extremely cold,” said Swaim, a 19-year veteran of the state Department of Corrections. “God and I talked for a while.”

Swaim said that although it had rained in the area earlier in the day, the sky was clear when she set out for work just before 10 p.m. The road wasn't barricaded, she said, as it usually is when the creek is high.