(KTXL) — While floodwater has since receded from Highway 99, a family of four found themselves trapped in those floodwaters without an exit.

“It was like a nightmare. It was a nightmare in real life,” Connie Lum said.

Floodwaters quickly crept in around Connie Lum and her family.

“We knew that we were in danger and we don’t carry life vests in our car,” Lum said.

However, the imminent danger was not apparent right away.

The family of four was driving home up Highway 99 after a New Year’s Eve Party when they hit a traffic stall at Acampo.

“GPS said that there was crash delay and a 12 minute wait so we figured that would not be too bad,” Lum said.

The 12-minute delay turned into more than an hour delay when Gavin Wages eventually navigated their vehicle north near Dillard, and his daughter Mariah caught on to more than just a crash.

“We got up to Dillard and the cars started turning around again and one lady yelled out of her window, ‘It’s a mess up there, it’s worse than here. If you can, get out of here,'” Gavin Wages said.

But they were unable to leave and were stuck in floodwaters for three hours with the water level rising around them.

“I was talking to my friends the entire time and one of them was just like ‘Don’t die,’” Mariah Wages said.

Lum’s son Geoffrey has autism and the fear was too much to handle for him to handle.

“He saw the water, he saw the darkness, he saw the cars stuck. He had all of that,” Lum said.

The nightmare ended early New Year’s morning. Wages waded through the water and turned back south to Stockton.

After a last-second escape, the family feels lucky to share together, now safe inside their Sacramento home.

“Geoffrey never uses words like dead or dying or killed, and this morning I asked him, ‘How do you feel about what we did?’ And he said, ‘We could’ve been killed’ and I was like, ‘Wow. It’s true,’” Lum said.

The family says that the last-second decision to take their Suburban instead of their small Kia possibly ended up saving their lives.