PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A buoyant diaper was credited with saving the life of a three-year-old girl Tuesday after her family's car plunged into a small lake in Florida as her parents fought.
Little Sariyah Michel's father died in the crash, which occurred in Pembroke Park in south Florida about 12:30am Tuesday, but the mother -- who was driving when the car crashed -- and child were rescued from the dark water by police.
"All of a sudden this little thing popped up like a cork," Deputy Cazi Navarro told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I saw it was a Pamper, and attached to the Pamper was this little girl," he said.
The little girl's mother Catherine Copeland, 33, was also saved. Her father, Sandro Michel, 27, drowned in the submerged car.
The Broward Sheriff's Office said the incident began with a volatile argument between Copeland and Michel at a Racetrack gas station which prompted bystanders to call 911. "This altercation is what landed their vehicle in the middle of the lake," said sheriff's office spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion.
The family drove off and a short time later crashed into the lake. Citing relatives, WSVN-TV reported that Michel had a criminal history -- including domestic violence aimed at Copeland -- and did not want to go back to jail, so he took control of the car, sending it into the water.
Sariyah was taken to the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood and was listed in critical but stable condition and was expected to recover.