Drone used to help rescue 4 stranded in Brazos; dam gates closed

(HCSO photo)
(HCSO photo)(KWTX)
Published: May. 31, 2018 at 10:43 PM CDT
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Four people stranded in the middle of the Brazos River below the Lake Whitney dam were rescued Thursday.

A drone, flown by Hill County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Hemrick, delivered a lifejacket to a mother and her 15-year-old daughter to keep them afloat before a rescue boat arrived.

Authorities say they didn’t know how to swim and got stranded as the water levels were rising.

“The stranded individuals had no swimming skills nor devices to keep them afloat with the water rising,” said Chief Deputy Rick White.

“That lifejacket served as a real lifesaving device until water vehicles could arrive to extract them from the river.”

As rescuers were getting the mother and daughter into the air boat provided by the West Shore Department, two men in kayaks were found stranded several hundred yards farther down the river.

“There’s warning signs, please take heed of the warning, especially in that lower part of the dam,” said White.

“Do not try to cross the river form one county side to the other, don’t get out in the middle and float in inner tubes or stand out there, because when those alarms sound generally there is not enough time to return to shore.”

The events forced the Army Corps of Engineers to shut down the dam’s water release.

Hillsboro Fire, DPS, West Shore VFD, Whitney Police Fire and Rescue, the Lake Whitney Corps of Engineers, Lake Whitney Park Rangers, HCSO and Hill County Emergency Management responded.

“We’re lucky we got everybody out,” said White.