Weekend storms prompt water rescues



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Posted on October 14, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 14 at 7:28 PM

AUSTIN -- Fast rising water put some people in danger over the weekend. Rescue crews responded by air and land to get them to safety.

"I've never seen it this high. This is incredible," explained Natalie Tucker, talking about Sunday’s rising waters at Barton Creek. She and her friends heard a kayaker yelling for help. A short time later, Travis County’s Star Flight rescue helicopter began their search. Dozens of rescuers from the Austin Fire Department also arrived.

“At first, we didn’t think it was anything. And once we were coming back and saw the rescue workers, that’s when we realized it was actually a person who was out there, not just someone running around and yelling,” said Tucker.

In all, firefighters responded to six water rescues in less than 24 hours around Central Texas.

Rescue video provided by Star Flight shows a woman after she flipped her car. She was trying to cross a low-lying road near Westlake High School. Crews also rescued the driver of a jeep. The man got stuck driving into high waters off FM 1826 near Slaughter Lane in southwest Austin.

"They are not aware of how deep the waters are when they are driving in the dark. And the next thing they know, they find themselves in a bad situation," said Willy Culberson, Star Flight’s aviation director.

Some situations are unpredictable, but some people intentionally put themselves in danger. That was the case with Sunday’s Barton Creek rescue.

“Well, the people who paddled the creek yesterday were just, they were crazy,” said avid Austin kayaker Robert Brice.

Despite the creek's closure Monday, Brice still felt safe paddling. “I understand there's a concern for safety, but in this weather today, this is perfect recreational paddling. The people who were trying to do this yesterday, they really were putting their lives in their own hands," contends Brice.

Culberson says his crews are trained, “but there's always an increased risk when we have to go out in that type of weather," he said.

Austin police cited several people on canoes over the weekend for disobeying a waterway ban.