DNR water rescue caught on camera in southern Indiana
Indiana Department of Natural Resources District 8 officers helped rescue a man stranded in his pickup truck, surrounded by flood waters Monday afternoon.
JACKSON COUNTY, Ind. (WDRB) – Indiana Department of Natural Resources District 8 officers helped rescue a man stranded in his pickup truck, surrounded by flood waters Monday afternoon.
DNR Cpl. Nate Berry said the White River crested over the weekend, causing many of the nearby fields and roads to flood.
“In southern Indiana, along the White River and Muscatuck River bottoms, both those rivers will swell very quickly," Berry said. "And the water back up into a lot of shallow fields.”
That was the case Monday when a man decided to try and drive his pickup truck through a flooded road outside Brownstown, Ind. Berry said his truck was caught by a current and swept into a flooded ditch. The man’s truck filled with a couple feet of water, and he had to stand in the truck bed to wait for help.
The man called 911, and an officer arrived to help. Cpl. Berry said that officer realized it would take more than an extra set of hands to rescue the man, so the DNR’s airboat was requested.
“We brought the bout out in the water,” Berry said. “You read the current, figure out what the current’s doing and then place the boat in a way the victim can step into the boat.”
Video of the rescue posted to DNR District 8’s Facebook page shows it only took a couple minutes to launch the airboat in the water, reach the stranded driver and bring him to safety.
Berry said the man was cold and taken to the fire department to warm up. The driver was not hurt, but the man’s truck was still stuck in the flood waters as of Tuesday.
The Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department and Jackson County Sheriff’s Department also assisted with the water rescue.
DNR Officer Jim Hash said the man was lucky to not get hurt and warns others to just turn around when they see high water.
“The thing about these waterways is that they can come up at a moment’s notice,” Hash said. “They may not look like they’re dangerous, but water is a very powerful thing. It takes a half a foot or less of water, of current moving across a road, to push a normal-sized vehicle.”
DNR purchased seven airboats for the state of Indiana to help in water rescues. Five of those boats are stationed in flood-prone southern Indiana, and two of those are in District 8. Each boat costs about $100,000.
Berry said the cost is worth every life saved, as these boats are safer and versatile.
“The airboats are a necessity,” Berry said. “There are a lot of situations with flooded river bottoms where shallow water prevents the use of traditional boats. But then you can also cover deeper water in a dip or a ditch, or if a vehicle is swept off a roadway.”
In District 8, seven officers are trained to operate the boat, and their training can help save others outside the state of Indiana.
“That training is recognized through FEMA,” Berry said. “So we become certified nationally to operate boats at other floods or in other states.”
So far this winter, officers said the flood rescue calls have been tame. But they are always prepared.
“It’s not uncommon in Jackson, Washington, and Scott Counties to have two or three calls per day for similar rescues,” Berry said.
Whether or not they use an airboat, every DNR officer is trained for water rescues. And Hash said DNR is the number one water response agency in the state of Indiana.
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