Austin police relive flood rescue in downtown creek

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several life-saving rescues were pulled off this week during the storm flooding. One was along Waller Creek at Seventh Street, a popular spot where homeless gather on the benches to rest and enjoy the calm.

Laura Lloyd was there Monday as the waters rose.

“With the water rushing that fast, if you try to cross the creek it will wash you away, it can drown you,” she said. ‘It will carry you along because there’s no footing and no banks to climb up on.”

A homeless man in his 50s was clinging to a flooded bench rail when Austin police got the call. They say he looked exhausted and panicked when they arrived on scene. The team trusted their training and each other.

“I knew if we had to jump in the water to go after him all five of us would have jumped because we’re not going to let one of us go in alone without backup and more backup,” said Officer Ashley Uniszkiewicz.

Most importantly the officers had to get the man to trust them.

“For him to trust a total stranger with his life, to trust all of us there is to get him to let go of the rail,” said Officer Steven Pena. “To trust the rope and trust us…whatever we said to him he listened.”

Officer Uniszkiewicz picks up the story, “The current was flowing so fast that when the guy let go of the railing he was holding the rope and he swung into the wall here. We hoisted him up.”

The man was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Pena and Uniszkiewicz were helped by officers Ben Cochran, Amy Thomas and Cameron Staff.

Wednesday they revisited the area. Waller Creek was gentle now. They stopped for a while and reflected, on a brave job well done.

 

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