A local family was saved during a swift water rescue Thursday evening, north of Willcox.
At about 5:18 p.m., on Thursday, Aug. 29, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a vehicle stuck in a wash on Old Stewart Road, said CCSO Spokeswoman Carol Capas.
The Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team responded, finding a 1996 Hummer in the middle of the road with about four feet of water running over it, she said.
Members of the Search and Rescue Team were able to tie a rope between a rescue vehicle and the stranded SUV before getting two female juveniles to safety, then assisting the husband and wife out of the water, as well, Capas said.
The rescued man said that he and his family were at their home off of Old Stewart Road when the rain started.
He said that at some point after the storm began, water flooded the house and reached their waists as he was getting his family to safety in the vehicle.
They began to drive towards Willcox when the road flooded and the vehicle got stranded, which is when the man called 9-1-1 for help, Capas said.
The family was reportedly in the vehicle for about 45 minutes to one hour while waiting for rescue personnel, she said.
Capas said that no injuries were reported in this incident and the family was taken into Willcox to make lodging arrangements for the night.
The next morning, Capas announced that East Stewart Road, north of Willcox, was closed due to flooding.
“This vehicle did not make it across,” she said in her e-mail, which included a photo of a flooded vehicle.
“Please be safe out there and pay close attention to road conditions,” Capas said.
The white truck in the photo belongs to David Castillo, who has lived in Willcox his entire life, except for his service in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.
“There were no barricades, no road closures,” said Castillo, explaining that he didn’t “think the water was that deep.”
“I thought I saw a City vehicle come through it, but he might have turned around,” he said Tuesday morning.
While he was trying to cross the wash, the current was so strong it turned his truck around in the opposite direction, Castillo said.
He crawled out the window of his truck, as the water was rushing in.
Castillo was able to swim to safety, and then called 9-1-1 from his cellphone which he held out of the water as he swam.
“I’m glad I’m OK,” said Castillo, thanking “everyone who was concerned about me,” as well as Ellis Towing for getting his truck out of the water.
“My truck is now ruined,” and currently at a local repair shop, he told the Range News.
Castillo credits his Marine Corps experience with helping to get himself out of the situation, as there was no one around to help him.
“I hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Castillo, adding, “I hope this is a warning to other people.”
The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office warns of the dangers of flash flooding, which happens within seconds and puts lives in danger, said Capas, adding, “Please be safe out there especially during the monsoon season.”