Northeastern Regional cops save woman, 2 tots from rising floodwaters
PA water rescue instructor Todd Stahl provides tips for swimming safely
Police saved a mother and her two young children from their minivan as rising floodwaters threatened to submerge it in East Manchester Township early Friday morning, according to Union Fire Chief Joe Stevens.
It was Northeastern Regional Officer Scott George who was able to get to the family, stranded inside their minivan in several feet of water on Conewago Creek Road near Bowers Bridge Road just after 5:30 a.m., Stevens said.
George straddled the minivan and the embankment between the road and the Conewago Creek, grabbed the two small children and handed them off to another officer, according to Stevens.
"Then he got the mom out," he said.
That happened just as Union Fire Co. crews were arriving, the fire chief said. Also called to the scene were York County's Advanced Technical Rescue Team, Eagle Fire Co. crews, medical crews and rescuers from York Haven and Jacobus. At least one boat was on scene.
"That is a standard water-rescue response," Stevens said, to ensure crews are always prepared for the most difficult rescues.
Tots on roof: The children were ages 1 and 3, according to Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo, and their mother told rescuers she was on her way to work when her minivan started sinking in rising water.
"The kids were on the roof (of the vehicle) when we got there," Rizzo said.
George handed off the children to Officer Sean Sullivan, who got them to safety, Rizzo said.
The police chief praised his officers' actions, describing them as selfless — especially considering George and Sullivan could have waited for rescue crews, who were en route.
But waiting would have meant subjecting the already frightened children to a longer ordeal, so the officers stepped in, Rizzo confirmed.
"I commend them for taking action," he said. "The officers did a great job."
George has been a Northeastern Regional officer for 19 years, and Sullivan was hired about a year-and-a-half ago, according to Rizzo.
Flood-prone: Conewago Creek Road floods frequently, according to Stevens.
"It gets several feet deep and people just don't realize it," the fire chief said.
Luckily, the floodwaters there are generally not fast-moving because the embankment between the creek and the road helps to slow water flow, Stevens said.
A vehicle can be swept away in as little as 6 inches of water, Union Fire Co. officials said, and they reminded people to obey the mantra of "turn around, don't drown."
The floodwaters could fully recede by Saturday, or perhaps take up to a few days, depending on how saturated the ground is and whether more rain falls, according to Stevens.
The minivan will be towed once the road is dry, he said.
Stevens urged people not to wade, swim or play in floodwaters, which are generally polluted with sewage and petroleum products.
"Floodwaters are highly contaminated — or at least we're strongly suspicious that they are," he said.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.