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Another Travis County deputy rescued from high water

Rapidly rising water trapped six people in Central Texas on Thursday. All of them were rescued, including a Travis County deputy who was forced onto the hood of her patrol unit by the floodwaters. The deputy, who has not been identified by the Travis County Sheriff's Office, was responding to a call for help when she sent out one of her own. (Photo:Bettie Cross)

Rapidly rising water trapped six people in Central Texas on Thursday. All of them were rescued including a Travis County deputy who was forced onto the hood of her patrol unit by the floodwaters. The deputy, who has not been identified by the Travis County Sheriff's Office, was responding to a call for help when she sent out one of her own.

"At about 5:30 a.m. we got a call that there was a stranded motorist on Bitting School Road," said Captain Willie Taylor with the Travis County Sheriff's Office (TCSO).

A TCSO senior deputy responded to that call for help. But it was dark and the deputy couldn't see how fast the water was rising. Her patrol unit stalled.

"I know that the water was up to the bumpers of her Ford SUV," said Captain Taylor.

Captain Taylor was called to the scene and arrived with a driver and a deputy needing to be rescued from the high water near Manor.

"As she was on the hood of her vehicle she could hear someone else calling for help," said Captain Taylor.

The deputy was rescued by STAR Flight. Firefighters found the driver clinging to a tree. Neither saw the danger they were driving into.

"What looks like a puddle on the ground turns out to be a whole lot more than what you might expect," said Captain Taylor. "You never know how high that water is or how fast it can rise up around your vehicle."

This is the second time in three months that Travis County deputies have helped rescue one of their own. Another deputy was stranded at a low water crossing in October. They aren't trained for swift water rescues, but after the death of Senior Deputy Jessica Hollis in 2014 they are now all equipped with basic lifesaving equipment.

"Right here I have a water rescue kit," said Captain Taylor as he opened the kit.

It contains a life vest, throw rope and rescue stick. TCSO realized how much they needed the equipment after Deputy Hollis's patrol car was swept away by fast-moving water.

"I worked with Jessica," said Captain Taylor.

Her death makes him want to do what he can to prevent another loss.

"Every time I hear that sound on the radio of a deputy stuck in water it gets to my core and it hurts me and I think back to Jessica and I want to make sure that officer is safe," said Captain Taylor.

Barricades were not up when the deputy responded to the call for help Thursday morning. The water wasn't high when she got to the Manor area, but within minutes it was seeping into her SUV and covered the floorboards.

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