Rescuers need rescue when Nogales police unit gets stuck in floodwaters

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(Source: Nogales Police Department) (Source: Nogales Police Department)

Flash flooding from a monsoon storm in Nogales left at least two homes with water damage and nearly swallowed a police car during a rescue attempt.

Pounding rain began falling around 3 p.m. Thursday and did not let up for a few hours, according to Nogales police Sgt. Robert Fierros. Officers were forced to temporarily close streets near Grand Avenue and Doe Street as canals crested onto roadways.

In the midst of the storm, officers got a call about a family that was stranded on their own property with at least three kids and an elderly woman, Fierros said. None of the family members were having an immediate medical emergency, but with no way out, officers were concerned that medical assistance would not be able to reach them should it become necessary, he said.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Monsoon 2017]

With other officers standing by, a police supervisor tried to drive to the family and got stuck in several feet of water.

“The officer decided the best course of action at that point, although it is discouraged to go into swift water, was to use what he had to help these people get across,” Fierros said.

While acknowledging that police always urge the public to avoid crossing moving water, he added, “This was a situation that was a special circumstance.”

Pictures show Fierros, a police spokesman, personally helped get the vehicle out of the water. He said some U.S. Border Patrol agents pitched in with tow ropes, and the whole process took about 40 minutes.

After that, officers stayed with the family and monitored the floodwaters until they reached a manageable level, he said.

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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