The Payson Fire Department dusted off its swift-water rescue gear Thursday night after a man found himself on the wrong side of the creek.
The man was heading home on Gibson Ranch Road at about 6:30 p.m., when floodwaters washed his vehicle down a Middle Round Valley wash, usually just a small, dry creekbed, according to the fire department.
“You would cross it and never look twice at it
normally,” said a Payson Fire representative, who worked the rescue.
The water was moving so quickly it easily took the vehicle far down the creek. When firefighters arrived, they couldn’t see any vehicle from the crossing.
A team of firefighters started hiking down the side of the creek when they received word that the driver had gotten out and made it to shore on his own. An off-duty Forest Service law enforcement officer, who lives on the east side of the creek, picked the man up and brought him back to the crossing.
Unfortunately, they were on the side opposite of rescuers and Gila County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who wanted to question him.
Firefighters with swift-water training huddled together and crossed the creek, which was roughly 18 inches deep, but moving rapidly, the spokesperson said.
They collected the man and crossed back, handing him over to deputies who took him away.
It is unknown if the man was cited. The vehicle, meanwhile, is still in the creek. Since crews never made it to the vehicle, they did not know its make or model.