Driver finds soft spot in Martha's heart

October 01, 2003|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Two years ago, Harold Baker built his wife, Martha, a heart-shaped pond in their front yard on U.S. 27 South, complete with a heart-shaped island and majestic fountain.

Last week, that heart helped save the life of a water-logged driver as she watched her car sink under almost eight feet of water, the fountain spraying quietly behind her the entire time.

Emergency dispatchers and Lincoln County Sheriff Shelby Lakes reported that Kelee Penman, 31, of Lancaster, was driving south about 8:45 a.m., approaching the Lincoln County Fairgrounds, when she tried to turn right into Baker's driveway to let a tailgating car pass.

Penman lost control of her vehicle, which slid down an embankment before sinking in Baker's pond. Her car missed a guardrail that separates the highway from the pond. Police estimate that she was driving 35-45 mph at the time.


According to Harold Baker, his wife was leaving for work Wednesday morning when she heard the shouts of Penman, who was standing on the island. The Bakers had to get their boat out of storage and empty it before rowing out to the shivering woman.

"She (Penman) swam out of the car and was standing on the island. It scared the hell out of us," said Baker.

Mrs. Baker said Penman was shaken up and had cut her foot in the accident.

"She told me, 'I'm going to bleed all over your boat,' and I said, 'well, I don't care,'" said Mrs. Baker.

The gray 1987 Pontiac Grand Am was totally submerged when Skytower Automotive and Machine arrived to tow it. A member of the Lincoln County dive team was dispatched to hook the winch to the car.

Jimmy Taylor, owner of Skytower, said it took about two hours to remove the car. There were no dents on the car from the ordeal, said Taylor, just plenty of mud.

"It was hard for the diver to hook onto the car because it was down in the mud," said Taylor.

Lincoln County fire and emergency personnel were also on the scene. Penman was not transported for treatment.

Baker said Penman was lucky she didn't slide deeper into the pond, where the car could have sunk under almost 14 feet of water. As it was, Penman narrowly missed damaging the fountain components.

"I never dreamed a car would be in that pond," said Baker.

Emily Burton can be reached at

Central Kentucky News Articles