Troopers who saved Pinal County family stranded in floodwaters describe rescue
MARICOPA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The DPS rescue crew on a daring water rescue in Pinal County described the heart-stopping moment captured on video. Two parents and their four children were airlifted by a helicopter crew during a powerful monsoon storm on Sept. 21. They say it was around 8:30 p.m. troopers got the call to assist Pinal County Sheriff’s deputies in a Maricopa water rescue.
The three-member crew can be heard in the video scanning the water from their helicopter, scouting for the family stranded in the raging water. “Ranger 1, we’ve inserted our specialist on top of the car. He’s making access; we’re going to start extracting patients,” one trooper said. With storms upstream, the pilot, Jake Arnold, said there was a possibility of floodwater rising. “We move with a purpose, but we’re not rushing,” he said.
The crew is then seen zeroing in and dropping a paramedic behind the SUV. Next, they said they evaluated what steps needed to be taken. “We started immediately communicating within our crew as to what our plans were,” said Russ Dodge, a DPS trooper and paramedic.
Inside the helicopter, Arnold said he relied on Dodge, who was harnessed onto the side of the helicopter, to guide him. “We extracted the kids that we found out first because they were cold, they were wet, it was windy, and we wanted to start warming them up was our priority,” said Dodge.
Eric Tarr, another DPS trooper and paramedic, was the one on the SUV, building the trust directly with the parents. He said part of getting the parents to follow instructions was letting them know they were trained. “It’s a lot different when you bring the little kids involved because if they go in the water. They have essentially zero chance of survival, very minimal. I put lights on each of the children so that if they did go in the water, I’d hopefully be able to find them again,” Tarr said.
In this case, all of those involved made it out safely. “We don’t just go out there, we train for this. Everything is a little bit dynamic, but we do ingress, egress stuff on a regular basis,” Arnold said.
Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.