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Flooding forces rooftop rescue

A young woman was rescued from the roof of her car Thursday night after it was overtaken by floodwaters in the Viola area.

According to Viola Fire Department Chief Wayne Davenport, the woman was driving a Nissan Altima on Wheeler Road when she approached the bridge on that road and her car stalled out when water approached window level.

“She tried to cross the bridge and the water drowned out her car,” said Davenport, who indicated she was traveling from Highway 108 toward Vervilla Road. “The bridge goes downhill as you cross in that direction so she was driving into deeper water. She was able to climb out of the car and get on the roof. That’s where she was when we got there.”

Davenport said Viola Fire Department member Glenn Yoder lives nearby and was the first on the scene. Yoder drives a large Dodge Ram pickup.

Yoder said rescue officials were discussing how to approach the situation when it was suggested he back into the water with his large truck to see how far he could go.

“We had three guys in the back and I started in to see if I could reach her,” said Yoder. “The water was moving pretty fast, about up to my bumper, but I was able to get back there to her.”

The rescue workers were able to get the woman, estimated to be around 18, into the back of the pickup without injury. 

Davenport said the fast-moving current likely would have swept the car away if not for the guardrails on the bridge.

“The message we always like to give is don’t drown, turn around,” said Davenport. “If you don’t know, it’s better to stay out of it.”