High Water Rescues Highlight Dangers for First Responders

High Water Rescues Highlight Dangers for First Responders

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - A tragedy in Austin is being felt by first responders all the way in the Basin.

"As a battalion chief, I worry about the 54 guys that work for me," Odessa Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief, Kavin Tinney, said. "We want everybody to go home everyday."

On Friday afternoon, search crews found the body of a 35-year-old Travis County Sheriff's Office deputy. The deputy was checking out low water crossings when she was swept away in her patrol vehicle early Thursday morning.

Local officials said what happened highlights the dangers of the profession.

Tinney said his guys have responded to multiple water rescues calls over the last two days.

"We've had a few this (Friday) morning. It puts us in jeopardy when you do those kinds of things," Tinney said.

Officials said the water may not look deep but choosing to drive through it could mean the difference between life and death.

"We have some areas on South Grant that we've lost people before due to rushing water and you just gotta be careful," Tinney said.

Odessa Police have been busy too.

"Within the last two days, OPD has responded to approximately 20 assist motorist calls in reference to the storms we've been having," Cpl. Steve LeSueur with the Odessa Police Department, said.

The first responders said they're trained for these situations.

"When we have to get in high water, we don't wear our bunker gear. That'll weight you down," Tinney said. "We'll drive up next to the vehicle and try to assist them into our vehicle and take them to higher ground."

However, each call is stressful.

Officials are asking drivers to think twice, for your safety and theirs.

"It's always better to be safe than sorry, and in some cases, just turn around and find a different route," LeSueur said.