Around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 9, 2017, Fresno County Sheriff's Office dispatchers received a call from a woman who said her neighbor was trapped in his pickup truck, which was submerged in water.
FSO deputies, members of Cal Fire, the California Highway Patrol and American Ambulance all responded to the scene located on Brookside Road, just east of Dunlap Road in Miramonte. The deputies and firefighters, who are part of their respective department's boating units, are all swift water rescue certified.
Once on scene, rescuers found the pickup in the middle of Mill Creek, which is about 20 feet wide. The vehicle was stuck in about four feet of fast moving water, so FSO responders developed a plan with assisting agencies to try and get the victim safely out of his vehicle.
A FSO deputy dressed in swift water rescue gear attached himself to a safety rope that was tethered to the shore and entered the water. He broke the passenger side window, placed a life jacket and cinch collar around the victim and then opened the door to get to the victim. Rescuers standing by then safely pulled him to the shore.
This was a difficult rescue due to the fact that the 76 year old was a very large man. Fortunately he was not injured and did not request any medical attention.
The victim told deputies that he had left his property earlier in the day and the water was not very high. However, when he returned home in the afternoon, the rain had caused water levels on the creek to rise significantly. The victim believed he could safely drive his pickup across the easement onto his property, but that was not the case. Once in the water, the fast moving current swept his pickup downstream about 50 feet.
It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car and two feet of rushing water can sweep away most vehicles. Remember, turn around and don't drown.