Silverbell rescue
Photo courtesy of Northwest Fire District

Sunday night’s monsoon storm kept police and fire officials busy with rescues, including one that involved a 93-year old woman.

At 4:34 p.m., deputies of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Unit, along with officers of the Marana Police Department and the Northwest Fire Department responded to a swift water rescue at North Silverbell Road and West Benjamin Road.

Rescue units found a Toyota Corolla trapped in a wash upon arrival with three individuals inside.

With assistance from Swift Water Rescue Technicians, a 69-year old female and 71-year-old male were able to walk out of the rushing water, while a 93-year-old female was carried by crews in a stokes basket.

It was determined by officials that the vehicle had become stuck in a hole that had formed when a portion of the roadway washed away. The flowing water disguised the broken roadway, trapping the vehicle in place. Nobody was harmed in the rescue.

Auxilliary Volunteers from the Sheriff’s Department remained on scene to ensure nobody passed through the area until the roadway was evaluated by the County Highway Department.

According to Captain Adam Goldberg of the Northwest Fire District, Silverbell Road between Panorama Road and Sunset Road saw significant amounts of damage.

“The storm water eroded away two large sections of the road,” he said. “Repairs will likely take a considerable amount of time. It’s not going to be a 24-hour repair.”

Goldberg said members of the Pima County Department of Transportation would be surveying the damage today to make repair preparations.

Crews from the Northwest Fire District also responded to a lightning strike to a home at 5591 W. El Camino Del Cerro. Though the lightning caused electrical damage, the home did not catch fire. No injuries were reported in the incident.

In another rescue, the Northwest Fire Department was dispatched along with the Picture Rocks Fire Department and the Avra Valley Fire Department to another vehicle trapped in floodwaters. The two individuals were a woman in her 30’s and a man in his 40’s, who were trapped in floodwaters that began to rise above the vehicle’s hood.

According to Goldberg, the male subject was wearing a cast, preventing him from making an escape attempt. Rescue crews used a stokes basket to bring him out, then returned for the woman, eventually bringing both individuals to safety.

The Avra Valley Fire District responded to another call in reference to a sedan stuck in a wash at the intersection of Cocio Road and White Eagle Road.

Upon arrival, firefighters found one vehicle in the wash with one male trapped inside. Water was up to the vehicle’s windows, and had pushed the vehicle about 15 feet downstream due to the force of the water’s current.

Three firefighters entered the swift water and managed to rescue the individual by pulling him out of the vehicle window, returning him to safety. No injuries occurred in the rescue.

Goldberg reported two accidents as a result of the storm along Interstate 10, with one accident north of Tangerine Road, and one south of Tangerine Road. Goldberg said the accidents were the result of the vehicles hydroplaning across the slick roadway. No major injuries were reported.

Patrick Calhoun with the Avra Valley Fire Department said it is important for people to use caution during monsoon storms.

“The public should remain ever vigilant during the monsoon season of water in the roadways,” he said. “You cannot always tell the depth of the water in a roadway or wash. It is better not to take your vehicle through the was and put you or other passengers at risk. Flashfloods have tremendous strength and can easily sweep vehicles or people away. The public should try to figure out alternative routes to get to and from their homes or around town.”

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