Baby, family rescued after car slides off I-29 into flooded ditch

Mom, dad, and the family dog are also safe and were all checked out after withstanding the frigid temperatures for nearly 15 minutes.

A firefighter with the Gardner Fire Department rescues a crying baby from a car that was sinking in a flooded ditch along I-29.
Matt Henson / WDAY

GARDNER, N.D. — Our winter storm, combined with spring flooding, have made roads treacherous in the area. Going off the road can have dire consequences as ditches are filled with icy water.

A family from Canada found that out after they were trapped in their sinking SUV for nearly 15 minutes after it slid off Interstate 29 south of Gardner and landed in a few feet of water. Gardner is roughly 20 miles north of Fargo.

A baby could be heard crying after it was rescued by a Gardner firefighter.

Mom, dad, and the family dog are also safe and were all checked out after withstanding the frigid temperatures.

"It's a bad recipe right now," said Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner.


That car is one of more than at least half a dozen cars to slide off I-29 north of Fargo on Thursday, April 20. That prompted Jahner to move his department's two airboats to the northern portion of the county with the roads only expected to get worse overnight.

Jahner said people need to be prepared if they head out overnight with water rising everywhere.

People should be checking the road conditions and "checking the areas where there could be potential flood type situations. So they know their route of travel, letting their loved ones know what they are going to take," Jahner added.

The sheriff called the situation dynamic and warned drivers if a boat is needed for rescue, it may take a little longer to get out to your car to rescue you.

"We don't know what's going to happen. It's going to depend on the current in the ditches. Is there a strong current in there? Is it just standing water? How deep is that water and how quickly is the vehicle filling with water? There's a lot of dynamics to it and unpredictable," Jahner said.

Typically, the advice if you go off the road and into a ditch are to stay in the vehicle until help arrives. It's totally the opposite if your car goes into a flooded ditch. First responders recommend to get out of the vehicle as fast as possible, if it can be done safely, and get to dry land.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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