BAKER HILL, Alabama (WRBL) — It was a tense 45 minutes for first responders in Barbour County Wednesday night. A car was submerged in rushing water late near Baker Hill, a small community about 15 miles from Eufaula.
What happened was a rescue, that turned out not to be a rescue.
When rescue crews from Baker Hill and Clayton arrived on Jack Hightower Road about 9:30 Central time Wednesday night the situation was deceiving.
The call said a car was caught in rushing water spilling around a dam. And two people were believed to be inside.
“When we got on the scene, there was water about 75 feet on either side of the vehicle,” said Baker Hill Fire and Rescue Chief Matt Lucas. “It was white capping all the way around the vehicle.”
Clayton Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Gulledge was on the other side of the road from the Baker Hill crews.
“Water was halfway up the driver’s door,” Gulledge said. “The compartment was flooded.”
The local responders could not get to the car because of the force of the water. Rescue units from Houston County, Alabama were called.
For 45 minutes emergency personnel were treating it as a rescue, though they had an idea the two people inside the sedan — a man and a woman leaving work at a nearby poultry processing plant — had escaped harm.
“We had confirmation from the mother she was out of the vehicle, but without physically hearing from the victim, it was considered an occupied vehicle,” Lucas said.
After it was all over, Gulledge was able to speak to the man and woman in the car.
“They did not see the floodwaters when they came down this way and they were met by another car leaving,” Gulledge said. “Headlights hit him in the eyes. And by the time he regained focus, he was already in the water and the car had flooded out.”
By the time the swift water rescue team made it to Jack Hightower Road, the situation was under control. The still used it as a training exercise.
“It was a fantastic feeling to know we got all the resources we needed on the way and everybody was all right in the vehicle,” Lucas said.