Man Saved in a Dramatic Water Rescue
Published: January 26, 2006 | 3374th good news item since 2003
If you have any doubt about how dangerous driving in heavy rain can be, you have to see the Grand AM Pontiac stuck in East Memphis’ Fletcher Creek since Sunday night.
Remember all that rain on Sunday? Well it caused big driving problems for 58 year old Tommy Ford. His car hydroplaned near Whitten Road and Interstate 40, left the road and went into Fletcher Creek, which was swollen with three inches of rain.
“We were monitoring the water and it was rising about a foot every 25 minutes.” says Skeeter Rutledge, who was one of the rescuers called to the scene. By the time rescuers arrived, the 2003 black Pontiac had floated about 300 feet down the creek. Tommy Ford was on top of the car and was waiting for help. It was far from an easy rescue. “Normally when you have these, you don’t have a good surface to work on. The banks are slippery. You go through a thicket trying to get to a location.” says Rutledge.
Some thirty-two rescuers and several pieces of equipment were called in. They used a 28-foot ladder to reach the car so Ford could climb across, all the time fighting the debris and currents. Rescuers say they trained for this type of rescue and Sunday night it paid off.
“A lot of times it’s a loss of life. Somebody is trapped in swift water, somebody jumps in to try and save them, and you end up with two fatalities. This was done very professionally with our rescue teams.” says Rutledge. Rescuers say the person who really deserves the credit is the other driver who saw Tommy Ford’s car veer off the road. She was the one to call police and waited until rescuers arrived.
Memphis Police are still trying to figure out how to get this car out of the creek. Rescuers are just happy they were able to get Tommy Ford out. “When the said rescue complete and everybody was ok, that made it a great day.” says Rutledge.
Tommy Ford was not seriously injured. He was taken to the hospital to be checked out. No word on any traffic charges he might face.