Travis County deputy, driver rescued from high water near Manor

Travis County
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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Travis County Sheriff’s Deputy became stranded in high water early Thursday in Manor as she was trying to help another stranded driver, officials say. 

At about 5:30 a.m., the deputy was headed to assist in the rescue of a driver caught in flood water on Bitting School Road when she became stranded herself near Littig Road, according to Travis County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kristen Dark.

The deputy was forced to get on the roof of her car and heard another person calling for help. That person had been swept away by high water and was clinging to a tree. 

The rescue

For an hour, officials worked to rescue the deputy and the other driver on Littig Road, as well as the third driver on Bitting School Road. Shortly after 6 a.m. a STARFlight rescue crew reached the deputy and hoisted her out of the water. 

The helicopter crew tried for another half hour to rescue the other person on Littig Road, but finally at about 6:30 a.m. rescuers in a boat reached the second person and they were brought ashore. The driver’s car was swept away in the water. 

“We’re one piece in the pie that goes out and gets people and brings them home,” said Patrick Phillips, the Medical Supervisor for STARFlight.

According to Phillips, STARFlight was called out three times but inclement weather prevented them from making the first two rescues. The deputy was the third.

“The winds are shifting. They’re very strong. You often have rain and other factors that make it more difficult,” said Phillips.

Reminders of a tragedy

For Travis County law enforcement, calls coming in from Wednesday night struck home. In 2014, deputy Jessica Hollis was swept away at a low water crossing. The call certainly made an impression on Captain Willie Taylor from the Travis County Sheriff’s Department.

“Every time I hear that sound on the radio of a deputy stuck in water, it gets to my core. You know, it really hurts me. I think back to Jessica and I want to make sure that officer is safe and we’re doing the right thing,” Taylor said at a Thursday press conference. 

Since then, deputies have been issued floatation devices in case of worst-case scenarios. When STARFlight arrived, the stranded deputy had hers on and the helicopter crew flew her to safety. They had to remove the floatation device for STARFlight crew members to hook her to the hoist.

Both the deputy and the driver received medical evaluations. 

Emergency workers responded to more than 10 calls of stranded people needing rescue or help during Wednesday night’s weather.

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