BEAVER CREEK — “All of a sudden I felt a huge surge of force sweep over my car and off the road.”
So said Eric Tutje, 20, who was caught in the dangerous storm early Sunday on Interstate 90 near Beaver Creek.
Tutje, the son of Daryl and Brenda Tutje of Sibley, Iowa, and a physical education student at South Dakota State University, was returning to his parents’ home after working as a wedding DJ in Sioux Falls, S.D., when the rain became unbearable at around 4 a.m.
“It was raining so hard I couldn’t see more than the center line directly in front of me,” Tutje recalled Monday. “I saw a semi and another car pulled over and figured it was a cop pulling them over. As soon as I looked back directly ahead of me, all I saw was straight water, and I began to hydroplane.”
Tutje said his car was swept over by water and he was pushed across the interstate and into a corn field.
“It was like a river that just washed everything out,” he said. “I heard that a dam broke and that was part of the reason for the flooding.”
When Tutje’s car finally came to a rest in the field, he noticed it was quickly filling up with water.
“My fear was that the car would roll over and that I would be trapped inside, and my car was actually one drop-off point away from flipping over,” he said. “So in order for me to not flip over, I put on my emergency brake and opened up my sunroof and kind of popped my head out.”
When Tutje felt the car was secure, he saw the water level was above his navel.
“When I noticed how high the water was I called 911, grabbed my backpack and stuck everything in there that I could, climbed out of my sun roof and sat on top of my car to wait for help,” Tutje said. “I really thank the Minnesota State Patrol and the Luverne Fire Department — they did a great job. The fireman kind of strapped himself to me, and we slowly walked out of the flood together.”
Tutje, who was unhurt, finally made it home to Sibley, and he went back later in the morning to inspect the damage.
“By around 10 a.m. they had all of the cars removed and to an enclosed yard so we could assess the damage,” he said. “Unfortunately, my car is totaled, but today (Monday) we are going car shopping.”
Tutje returned Sunday to Brookings, S.D., where he currently resides.
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.