Driver details ride down muddy flooded Burbank street

Posted at 2:18 PM, Jan 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-12 17:18:19-05

(KGTV/AP) - The Toyota Prius driver seen sliding down a wave of mud during the Southern California flood said he loves his car.

Desionne Franklin, 44, and his girlfriend evacuated a friend’s home in Burbank as waves of storm runoff turned down a steep street. The hillside was stripped of vegetation by a wildfire.

Franklin woke up to a rumbling noise at 6 a.m. Tuesday and saw "river rapids in the middle of a residential street." The rain stopped and the water receded. Franklin went back to sleep.

Hours later, he got word of the danger and evacuations.

Franklin and his friend packed their cars and shoveled several feet of mud from the front of the driveway.

A neighbor said rocks and small boulders were starting to fall nearby. 

Franklin said he told everyone, "'We've got to go now.' I was a little frantic."

The friend, his daughter and three cats left in one car. Franklin and his girlfriend left in a gray Prius.

As Franklin drove down the street, the wheels skidded and the current pushed at the car. Then, a wave of water crashed into them.

"My girlfriend was screaming at the top of her lungs: 'Go, go, go! We've got to get out of here!'" Franklin said.

"There was barely any traction," he said. "Then the hydroplaning started. I was completely at the mercy of the flow of the water."

Video from the Burbank Firefighters Local 778 showed the car sweeping down the curve.

Franklin passed other damaged cars.

"They looked like wadded-up pieces of paper," he said. "It was terrible."

At last, the Prius made it to the bottom of the hill. Franklin said he and his girlfriend looked at each other and "just sat there, speechless."

No one was hurt in the flooding.

The Prius, which Franklin recently had leased, came away with only a few scratches.

"I love the car now," Franklin said. "It got us through hell and high water, literally."