Harrowing moments after man saved from rushing water near Three Rivers

Thursday, February 9, 2017
Man trapped in truck after flooding in Tulare County, rescuer describes harrowing moments
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For one man trying to get home Tuesday night the consequences were swift.

THREE RIVERS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Near the 198 in Three Rivers the North Fork Kaweah River is putting people on edge. On Tuesday, some people could not even leave their properties without risking their lives.

"If you build next to the river you have to be prepared for the consequences because it will come. It's not a question of if but when," said John Elliott, TKC owner.

For one man trying to get home Tuesday night the consequences were swift.

"Those gambles sometimes pay off and sometimes they don't. And last night it did not for him," said Lt. Casey Lewis, Tulare County Fire.

Lewis is the rescuer who had to pull the victim out of his truck late Tuesday night.

"Once I was safely in the back of the vehicle in the truck bed, I was able to open the rear window all the way to get him into the life vest and helmet and get him into the back of the truck with me."

That bridge is still washed out and a bridge down river is clearly battered.

"It was raining steady-- raining steady and then the river just started rising, rising, rising," said Cindy Howell, Three Rivers Community Services District.

Asphalt was ripped from the roadway because of the debris and parts of the bridge were swept away.

"This is what we should have but in a drought year, four to five years of drought, we all forget what it's like to have real water," said Elliott.

First responders are standing by in case of more flooding; because people in this community know rivers can be unpredictable.

Emergency crews do not know how long they will be on standby. It just depends on what the weather does and how long this next storm lasts.