Responders rescue family members from same low water crossing 1.5 hours apart

Thursday's rain flooded some Austin-area creeks creating a dangerous situation for drivers who tried to navigate around low water crossings.
One area in particular saw a lot of activity as responders performed two rescues in just an hour and a half.

Thursday afternoon, Manor Fire Department and Austin-Travis County EMS were called to Bitting School Road in Manor to help a woman stuck in flooded Wilbarger Creek.

“The first water rescue involved an adult female who drove through the water and actually stalled out. She initiated 9-1-1 for help getting out of the car and traversing back through the water,” said Austin-Travis County EMS District Commander Millie Zapata. 

The woman was safe and uninjured and chose not to receive care at a nearby hospital. The scene was cleared, but, just an hour and a half later; responders were called back to the exact same place.

“We had two adult females in their early 20s who wanted to access the vehicle that was stalled out in the water from the first rescue, so they thought they would walk through the water to retrieve personal items out of the vehicle and got swept off the road and had to be rescued by emergency services,” Zapata said.

One of the women in her 20s was the daughter of the first woman rescued, the other a friend.
ATCEMS said they were trying to get an ID card out of a purse left in the car.

“One was swept off the roadway and ended up hanging onto a tree,  the second one actually made it to some shallow water where she just stood and waited for rescue,” Zapata said. 

Starflight was called out to help and pulled both women from the rising creek.

“They were both taken out of the water and brought to EMS services on the roadway where we evaluated both of those patients and it was determined that neither one of them were ill or injured and we released them to Travis County Sheriff's Office,” said Zapata. 

A spokesman for the sheriff's office said both women from the second rescue were detained until they could be positively identified. They could face charges depending on the outcome of the investigation.

“There was some discussion about whether or not they were told not to try and go out into the water to retrieve the items. We can't confirm that for sure, but we think that conversation did happen,” Zapata said. 

First responders said it's frustrating when people drive around barricades or intentionally enter a flooded creek putting themselves and rescuers in a high-risk situation.

“Putting yourself at risk, putting first responders at risk, is not worth going out for an ID card or purse or whatever’s in the vehicle,” said Zapata. 

ATCEMS wants to remind people that even shallow water covering a low water crossing can be extremely dangerous.

Luckily, no one was injured in either water rescue at Bitting School Road Thursday afternoon.
Responders tell us when a vehicle is stuck in a creek; the owner of that car will be able to get personal items out once it is safe for it to be towed, so there is no reason to risk a life walking through the floodwater.