Newspaper carrier trapped upside down in roadside pond


SHAWNEE, Okla. — A 75-year-old Shawnee newspaper carrier is lucky to be alive after a freak accident left his truck upside down in a roadside pond.

Last Thursday morning, Tom Gabel was on his way home from a night of delivering newspapers for the Shawnee News-Star.

He was on Stevens, just south of 45th Street when he lost control of his truck on the gravel, rural road.

“All of a sudden, I fishtailed. And when I did, I tried to correct it and I hit this right here, bounced and then nose dived right into that bank there and flipped over,” said Gabel.

Gabel was upside down in about six feet of water in the roadside culvert.

He managed to right himself and had about a foot of breathing room inside his truck.

“The floorboard was on my head,” said Gabel.

Just up the road, the only person home that morning, 89-year-old Robert Griggs, just happened to look out his small kitchen window.

“I got within about 40 feet, 50 feet of the truck. I could hear him calling weakly for help,” said Griggs.

Griggs immediately called 911 and paramedics and firefighters rushed in and rescued Gabel.

“I was upside down there for a little bit. Like I said, I could’ve drowned in there,” said Gabel.

Gabel and his wife, Mardell, credit Griggs with saving his life.

“He’s very lucky to be alive,” said Mardell Gabel. “We’re very blessed.”

Gabel’s truck is totalled.

The bumper and a hubcap are still floating in the deceptively innocent looking pond.

And other than a little whiplash, Gabel’s just fine, ready to get back to delivering the news.