AUSTIN (KXAN) — City Watershed Protection employees were fixing a ‘float switch’ at the low water crossing where three women and a dog were rescued Friday evening.
The crossing is on Old Bee Caves Road.
When water spills on the road, the switch is designed to let the city know when to put the low water crossing arms down and prevent cars from driving through.
The city tells KXAN the switch was damaged due to the storms Friday, but couldn’t say when exactly it happened.
Austin Police officers who conducted the rescue said the arms were not down at the time they were there.
According to Austin-Travis County EMS, emergency officials responded to the rescue around 6:50 p.m. Friday evening.
The city’s Watershed Protection Department says the crossing arms were down by 7 p.m.
When APD officers responded, they heard a woman crying and found a vehicle caught in rushing water.
Officers were able to remove the first two occupants and were in the process of removing a third and a dog when the vehicle continued to move toward the edge of the bridge.
The officer in the water was finally able to get the third woman and the dog from the vehicle, but then all three began to be pulled under the water due to the strong current.
That’s when Officer Matthew Valli entered the water and held the first officer — who held on to one of the women and the dog.
A minute later, police say, the vehicle went over the side of the bridge.
“I grabbed his belt, and was like, I’m holding on, I’m not letting go,” said Valli. “I cried. It was a lot to take in. I realized I could have died.”