[UPDATE 7:48 a.m.] Three People Saved From ‘Sinking Vehicle,’ Rescuers Going Back for Dogs
KMUD tweeted that the three people were rescued with the help of a rope from the vehicle about 4:55 a.m.
“All three patients are on the ground,” reported the Incident Commander over the scanner.
With two members of Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue on the scene, the decision was made for them to go in after several dogs that were still in the vehicle.
Garberville Fire and Cal Fire were on the scene as well as members of Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue.
As of 5:32 a.m., we have received no word about the dogs or the emergency personnel who were preparing to rescue them. We will update as soon as possible.
UPDATE 5:36 a.m.: The Incident Commander reports that all people and animals are safely out of the vehicle.
UPDATE 7:15 a.m.: At approximately 4:30 a.m., according to Diana Totten spokesperson for Southern Humboldt Technical rescue, 911 received a call for a water rescue off of Kimtu Road. A vehicle was sinking into the river.
When emergency personnel arrived on the scene, one woman and two men were on top of the vehicle which was surrounded by water. “The vehicle was full of water,” Totten explained. “They were on the roof. They crawled out of the windows…They were wet and cold.”
Cal Fire was able throw a rope to the partially submerged vehicle. The three individuals were “able to use the rope as stabilization and get out,” said Totten.
The occupants of the vehicle had been asleep when the river started coming up. “They found themselves trapped,” Totten explained. “The water rose fast–it came up a foot while we were there.”
Soon, the occupants were safe on shore but the river was swallowing the pickup and three dogs, Totten said. “It appeared that the vehicle would be lost because the water was rising so quickly,” she reported.
Totten said, that Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue sent out Genairo Gray, a rescue swimmer. “The three completely full grown dogs–they know they are in a pickle,” she said. When Gray first reached the truck, the animals were terrified. They began barking, Totten said. Genairo Gray took off his helmet so he wouldn’t look so frightening. At that point, Totten said, “He reached out his hands and one of the dogs jumped into his hands.”
Gray was able to get that dog to shore. “Two came really well,” Totten explained. “The third one was petrified. In fact, when we got him on the bank, he actually jumped back into the river and started swimming….They are just like people and don’t think clearly.”
Also, Totten said, the number of people, emergency vehicles, and bright lights must have terrifying. “There were a lot of cops and rescue people with headlamps and blinking lights,” she pointed out. “It was scary for them.”
But in spite of that, Totten said, “Genairo was able to reach out and steer [the frightened dog] back to land….He just kind of pointed him in the right direction.”
Some personal effects were also rescued.
Totten said that because a tow truck wasn’t available, as of the time she left the scene the truck was still in the water. Still, the people and their animals were saved thanks to all the various agencies who responded.
“We’ve got topnotch crews,” she said.
UPDATE 9:05 a.m.: Thanks to Terri Klemetson from KMUD, who tells us that “local do-gooders” helped remove the truck from the Eel River by 9 a.m. Thanks to all who helped.