Dec. 29--Just two days shy of her 23rd birthday, Erin Brazzil used her cell phone to call her father to tell him goodbye.
With the phone gripped tightly to her face she told him that she wouldn't be coming home again, that she was sorry for everything bad she had ever done.
Through tears and panic, she called out "Daddy! Daddy!" as the floodwaters rose inside her car. She was trapped inside after her Nissan Altima was picked up in a surge at Boston Avenue and Hover Street and carried east.
The water was so cold it was painful. She struggled helplessly to get out after the car was set adrift and pushed by the rushing waves as the rain continued to pummel Boulder County.
"I was like, 'Daddy, Daddy, I am legitimately going to die,'" she recalled. "I was like, 'I am so sorry, Dad. I am so sorry for everything I have done to you and Mom.'"
The engine in the car failed, electrical systems stopped working, the doors were locked and pinned tight by water pressure, and she exhausted herself trying in vain to kick out a side window or the windshield as her terrified father coaxed.
She began to make her peace with herself. With God. The waters would claim her, she was sure.
Brazzil left work at 1:53 p.m. on Sept. 12 determined to make it from southwest Longmont across the city to her babysitter's home on St. Clair Avenue to pick up her 2-year-old daughter during historic flooding. They would then set out for home in Loveland.
Rain had soaked the city, and some areas were flooding, with conditions changing moment to moment, but she waved off her boss' offer to return to the office for shelter should travel be too much to handle. No, she recalled thinking, there was no food or toiletries at the office and she needed to retrieve her daughter, Autumn.
Brazzil drove north along Airport Road until she encountered a roadblock at Rogers Road and saw other motorists were being turned back. She recalled that a volunteer directing traffic at the intersection waved her onto Rogers Road toward the city and she complied trying to devise a route to Autumn. As she approached Hover Street, Brazzil said, she stopped well shy of the intersection because the waters appeared high. As she considered her next move, a surge of water rushed the intersection and gave her no choice.
"I was losing traction. I think it was like the water met up with the lake," she said. "I had no traction. I couldn't reverse. I couldn't drive forward."
The engine revved and made a sickly sound before the car's systems failed entirely as the floodwaters began to carry the single mother away. She could not roll down windows, and the pressure from the water held the doors shut fast. She called her father in Berthoud.
"I just started to cry," she said.
The car began to take on water, initially filling only the foot well as it was pushed eastward.
Despite her apologies and declaration of certain death, Brazzil's father urged her to fight.
"You're not going to stop," she recalled him saying. "Don't you dare stop."
She secured the cell phone in the visor so she could use her hands to give herself leverage to kick at the car's windows -- at first at the impenetrable driver's side window and then the windshield.
"My foot went through, finally," Brazzil said, describing the give of the glass when she finally kicked a hole through the windshield. She tried to peel away the broken glass and cut her hands badly. Her progress stymied and she was exhausted and freezing. When she felt like giving up entirely and surrendering to the water, she thought of her daughter and kept up the fight.
She hung up with her father to continue her efforts, with a silent promise herself that she would call back with a final goodbye if she failed. In that time, he called 911 and a Longmont police dispatcher called her to try to get a location on her car to send help.
By this time, the car had settled on the shoulder of Boston Avenue near the north entrance to the Boulder County Fairground parking lot. The water seemed to rise faster once the car stopped moving.