Trapped in her car with her three young children, a mother feared the worst when a torrent of water smashed into the vehicle after it cut out while crossing a ford at night.
The car quickly filled with water but as luck would have it a pair of workmen spotted the family and carried out an audacious rescue by dragging the family out through the boot of the car.
In a further twist of fortune the only reason the men were there was because they got lost and broken down after their sat-nav directed them away from an accident on the M1.
Mariel Murphy, 38, was driving home at night when she went through a ford causing her engine to cut out in the River Swift, near Rugby, Warwickshire.
She was unable to see the extent of the flooding because it was pitch-black.
Moment later a powerful torrent of water slammed into the three-year-old VW Polo, smashing it into a bridge and trapping the family inside.
Terrified Mrs Murphy, a photographer, called 999 but before the fire service could get to her the icy, dangerous water seeped into the car and filled it up to their chins.
The water level was so high Ms Murphy and her three children, Joseph, six, Hayden, three, and 18-month-old daughter Gia, could only breathe by pushing themselves against the roof of the car.
But luckily, two quick-thinking workmen spotted them and managed to haul them out of the hatchback's boot.
Mrs Murphy described the terrifying accident: "It was a really strong current so I rang the fire brigade and thought I'd wait.
"But water was getting in and within minutes it had risen to my knees.
"My three children were screaming in the back - the water was nearly up to their chins.
"I didn't panic at first and had just been trying to reassure my children, but at this point I really started to worry.
"I then looked across and saw two men in a van nearby, but the electrics had cut out and I couldn't open the windows so I started banging and waving to get their attention."
Workmen Neal Bliss and Stephen Andrews, both in their 40s, had got lost and broken down after their sat-nav diverted them off the M1 after the motorway was closed following an accident.
When they heard Mrs Murphy's desperate cries they waded through the rising flood water and managed to open the boot of the car which was poking out the water.
Mrs Murphy added: "They (the workmen) were just amazing, they were so brave and strong.
"The fire brigade said afterwards they shouldn't have done it, but I'm just glad they were there to help us.
"It's a miracle they were there and I'm hugely grateful to them. They saved myself and my three children."
The family were examined by paramedics but were given the all clear.
Husband Kevin, 41, a managing director of a media planning agency, said: "It doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened.
"If those two workmen hadn't broken down or been there Mariel and the children would have been completely submerged in the freezing water."
A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: "Had the car not been a hatchback and had the two men not come to their aid so quickly, the outcome may have been very different.
"Our praise must go to the two men for acting so quickly."