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'I think they would have died' | Austin police officers honored for intense floodwater rescue

The officers saved three young women's lives on the night of deadly flooding in Austin – and the entire rescue was caught on camera.

AUSTIN, Texas — The rescue was caught on body camera. Now, a group of Austin police officers is recounting the moment they saved three young women's lives.

It happened during the heavy rains on Friday, May 3. When the skies opened up over Austin, the creeks quickly rose – including Williamson Creek in the Oak Hill area.

The automatic signal arms that are supposed to stop drivers from crossing the bridge on Old Bee Caves Road weren't working that night, perhaps due to a power outage, so a woman driving a car with two other women inside became trapped in floodwaters on the bridge over Williamson Creek.

Right as they called 911, two Austin police officers were responding to a different call nearby.

RELATED: VIDEO: Austin officers save 3 people, 1 dog in water rescue minutes before vehicle goes off bridge

"We were coming down 290 and the call came out, and I was literally right there," Officer Matthew Valli said.

Officer Valli and his partner, Officer Ben Cochran, used a guide rope in their patrol car to tie around their waists and get to the stranded car as water started rising higher.

After getting the first two women out, officers went to get the third woman out but she was clutching onto her dog.

In the video, you can hear the woman ask officers to take her dog. Officer Valli tried to grab the collar but it snapped. Then the woman let go of the officers to try and grab the dog before going over the steep edge of the bridge.

"That is probably the most dramatic and hectic thing I've ever been a part of," Officer Valli said. "All of a sudden the car starts moving."

Officer Cochran grabbed the woman holding onto her dog, and Officer Valli grabbed his partner by his duty belt.

Then senior police officer Kevin Perrydore, acting as an anchor, grabbed the rope with all three of them holding on and pulled them to safety.

"With all my might, just pulled as hard as I could. Thank goodness I had the strength to pull them out of harm's way," Officer Perrydore said.

The car, a four-door sedan, was found several days later about a half a mile down the road in the creek.

"It tumbled all the way down, the roof of the car was all caved in. It didn't look good," Officer Valli said.

The brother of two of the young women rescued stopped by the site to say "thank you" to the three officers.

"I'm just happy that officer was able to get them in time before they got swept away," he said.

If those officers hadn't been there at that exact moment, it likely would have ended differently.

"I think they would have died," Officer Valli said.

"Without Officer Valli and without Officer Cochran, I had no doubt in my mind the families of those three girls probably would have been burying them," Officer Perrydore said.


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