AUSTIN - Their story is one that was more than a decade in the making.
From the dramatic and risky water rescue off 1626 in South Austin on Nov. 22, 2004, brought a joyous reunion 13 years later between the woman who was saved and the pilot that saved her.
Rose Caputo, a nurse, had just kissed her son and husband goodbye at 5:20 a.m. and was on her way to work in the pitch-black morning. She drove over the low-water crossing, reached for her coffee, and that's when her whole world turned upside down. Literally.
The current took the front of her car.
"At that point, it was so raging torrent that it started spinning my car around in 360s," Caputo said.
But she wasn't going to give up easily.
Caputo found a way to kick out a window and climb to the roof of her car and start screaming. Luckily, a neighbor heard her and called 9-1-1.
Immediately, Starflight was notified.
Kevin McDonald, a former Navy pilot and 20 year veteran with Travis County's Starflight, told KVUE the heavy fog that day almost threatened to cancel their rescue operation.
"When the pager went off and I got up to the helipad, I couldn't even see across the street," he said.
McDonald said, "We were able to use the rotor wash from the helicopter to move the fog out of the way so we could get down and rig the helicopter for rescue."
According to an online resource, helicopters flying at low levels can create a vertical downwash of air, or a rotor wash, that becomes a surface wind, which could blow away the fog.
Caputo was able to leap off the roof of her car and into McDonald's arms.
The Dead Man's Curve, the name of a dangerous maneuver McDonald executed that morning, is also the name of his book detailing Caputo's rescue.
Now, 13 years after that fateful day, they reunited for Caputo's birthday celebration.
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