Just days before Thanksgiving a Jackson family is grateful to be alive after their SUV overturned in a creek. It was a dramatic rescue by Jackson Fire and Police who risked their lives to save a mother and two daughters.
Jackson Firefighter Erik Baker was waist deep in Hardy Creek at Monticello Drive around 9:30 Monday night after a Chevy Tahoe skidded through a curve and landed on its roof.
"It was dark and the water was more like a small Mississippi River," said Baker. "The water was very cold, but the rescue was my job."
The eight year station 11 firefighter was second on the scene where the three women were submerged in the creek.
JPD freed one woman. Then a firefighter, Lt. Monyette Funchess, was swept downstream.
Minutes later Funchess emerged from the woods, and the woman's sister was saved. But their mother, the driver, was still inside the overturned vehicle.
"I went under and heard a voice. It was a young lady. She said 'I can't, I'm trying to get air.' There were air pockets in the car. Water was rushing through, five, 10 miles an hour. We're holding on to dear life, for our lives," said Baker.
In the downpour and dark of night weighted down in full gear, Baker pulled her from the SUV.
"I didn't think twice. I just wanted to make sure everybody was fine," said the 42 year old rescuer.
"That has happened quite a few times," said Terrell Watkins, who lives two doors down from Hardy Creek. "I had to pull one lady out one time before when it rained."
This is becoming all to familiar for the assembly worker who has seen several vehicles plunge into those waters.
Monday night he and neighbors looked on in horror as the rescue unfolded.
"A lot of them were cold, and I went in the house and got a blanket for them," said Watkins. "I tried to rub them and tried to keep them warm. It's just in my heart to try to do good you know."
Firefighters Baker and Funchess were treated for hypothermia and released from a Jackson hospital.
If you find yourself submerged in your vehicle firefighters have this advice.
"Try to find an air pocket, get air and try to remain calm," added Baker. "If you can sit there until help comes it would be a help."
Firefighters remind you to remain calm even when rescuers have you in their grasp because your struggling makes it harder for them to get you to safety.
Of course you can swim to safety, but firefighters advise against kicking out windows of submerged vehicles because water could rush in and rob you of any pockets of air.
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