ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Numerous emergency and rescue personnel were called out early Friday morning to assist in the rescue of a Hillsboro resident whose vehicle was swept off the roadway as the result of heavy overnight rains in the Marion County area.
Fernando Chavez, 302 West Third St., was on his way to work at Klassen’s Dairy located at 922 240th when his pickup truck was washed from Indigo Road about 11/2 miles north of Hillsboro.
According to Neal Whittaker, park ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers, Chavez was on his way to work at about 4:30 a.m. when he failed to notice high water covering the roadway.
When Chavez didn’t show up
for work at around 7 a.m., Dale Klassen began to retrace Chavez’s route and found the vehicle washed off the road and Chavez clinging to a tree above rapidly flowing water.
Klassen put in a call to 911 and rescue personnel from the Hillsboro Fire Department, Hillsboro Emergency Medical Services, Hillsboro Police Department, Marion Rescue, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Army Corps of Engineers and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office responded.
Rain totals in Marion County the previous 12 hours ranged from 31/2 inches at the Corps office to more than 5 inches near Durham, causing the water to flow at a dangerous rate.
“The water was really swift,” Whittaker said. “We couldn’t wade to the victim, so the only way to perform the rescue was with the PWC (Personal Water Craft).”
Marvin Peterson, natural resource officer with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, performed the water rescue.
“We had the PWC tied off with a rope,” Whittaker said. “The water was flowing so rapidly it was nearly impossible to get to him without the PWC.”
Chavez was taken to the ambulance and treated for hypothermia, but apparently sustained no other injuries.