A flash flood and a close call; mail carrier makes quick escape

Josh Toney was subbing April 19 for the regular mail carrier on a postal route along Madison County rural roads. He has been on the job several months and had typical days making deliveries to several hundred mailboxes. But Friday was far from typical. His vehicle was swallowed by water. And he had to make a quick escape.

Commerce postmaster Chris Mitrisin said Toney, a 1997 Banks County High School graduate and former Marine, took it in stride, maintaining his always even-keel demeanor.

“He called about 12:30 and was really low key and not excited and he said, ‘Sir, there’s a problem with a road. It washed out and my car is gone.’ And I was like ‘your car is gone?’” said Mitrisin.

Toney hit some standing water at about 45 or 50 mph on Mercury Grand Marquis on Duncan Swindle Road.

“It was like I hit a brick wall,” he said.

The flash-flood rains had wiped out the culvert on the Madison County road. And Toney was suddenly in a potentially fatal situation as his car teetered momentarily with the front half in the water and the back half on the roadway.

Toney didn’t panic. He put the car in park, grabbed his scanner and leapt out of the vehicle, which rotated and was soon swept away in the current. The vehicle wasn’t recovered until several hours later over 600 yards from the incident.


Mitrisin said he felt Toney’s military training helped him stay calm and move quickly and efficiently to get out of harm’s way.

“He put the car in park and turned the engine off and when he put it in park it braced the car just enough on the side of the road (to make an escape),” he said.

Toney suffered some soreness but was not injured and he was right back on the job the next day in the vehicle of the route carrier he was subbing for.

“I’ve had worse days,” said Toney of the experience.

Mitrisin said the recovered vehicle included 10 bags of undelivered mail, which he compared to the consistency of wet toilet paper, adding that the Commerce Post Office staff is sifting through the mail to see what is salvageable. He said the route has 596 deliveries and 360 didn’t get their mail Friday. He is planning to send notices to those who didn’t get their deliveries.

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“…hit some standing water at about 45 or 50 mph”…??
Very lucky, this could have had a fatal outcome.
Safety first !