CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
TOBYVILLE — Emergency crews and good samaritans rescued motorists Aug. 17 in two incidents as swift water from torrential rain the past several days overtook a number of low-water crossings across the area, officials say.
At about 5 p.m. that day, Tobyville resident Gary Alderman and another motorist found themselves in a situation that may have saved a neighbor’s life.
He said the incident unfolded as he sat in his pickup truck on one side of a rain-swollen, low-water crossing on Hi View Drive.
“I was sitting in my truck … when she went into the crossing,” Alderman said of a woman driving a red Jeep Cherokee toward him from the other side of the crossing.
Water swept the vehicle off the roadway, and it began floating down the creek bed.
“That crossing right there will come up quick and go down quick,” he said. “The water was real muddy coming down through that creek.”
A cedar tree halted the floating vehicle about 100 yards from the crossing, and Alderman made his way to the other side by taking an alternate route near his own residence.
He said he waded into the water and reached the woman.
“I was standing about chest deep, and it was flowing pretty hard. There was another guy with me. He was behind me closer to the bank,” Alderman said.
From that time, events unfolded rapidly.
“She had crawled through the backseat. The driver’s-side rear door was open. She was hanging onto the rack. I calmed her down some and got her to get on top of the vehicle,” Alderman said. “I took my belt off and tied it around her arm. She got close to me, and I handed the belt to the other guy. She slipped down into the water.”
Neighbors watched from a distance as Alderman held onto the woman while the second unidentified motorist pulled her to safety.
“She wasn’t injured,” Alderman said. “She knew she made a mistake when she tried to cross.”
Alderman pulled himself to safety just before emergency crews arrived.
The incident came on the heels of another rescue earlier that day at about 1:30 a.m. just off Commerce Street in Marble Falls.
A woman called 9-1-1 when she became trapped inside her vehicle in a flooded low-water crossing.
“She was driving down Commerce Street. We had the crossing blocked, and she attempted to go around the barricades,” Marble Falls Fire Marshal Johnny Caraway said. “The water was higher than it looked and just overcame her vehicle.
“(Crews) had to come around from another side of Commerce Street from where the water was, and they were able to get to her, get to the car and pull her to safety,” he added.
The incident served as an example of the dangers of rising water.
“She is very lucky. We try to tell people regardless of what you think, that your car is going to make it through that water, that you may or may not make it, and it could cost you your life,” Caraway said. “When you pull up to one of those crossings and it’s blocked, turn around and find another way.”