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UNION TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A police officer was rescued from the roof of his cruiser after it became trapped in floodwaters.
It happened in Washington County, which is seeing some of the worst flooding in the region as water levels continue to rise in streams, creeks and the Monongahela River.
The swift water rescue teams are offering drivers this advice: “Turn around. Don’t drown. Cause it can happen quick.”
“Twelve inches of water on the roadway, you shouldn’t be driving through it,” said Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeremy Rager. “It’ll pick your car up and move it.”
KDKA’s David Highfield Reports:
The flash flooding created a dangerous situation for a Monongahela Police officer early Thursday morning.
According to police, it happened at the intersection of Patterson and Courtney Hill Roads in Union Township. The officer’s car was swept away and he became trapped on the roof.
“He was in jeopardy, anything can happen,” said Rager. “He didn’t have a life preserver on. Water was about five-feet deep, and he was cold. And that water was probably about 40 degrees.”
The Elizabeth Borough Swift Water Rescue Team was called in.
“We quickly deployed our throw boat,” Rager said.
Fortunately, the rescuers say the water was pretty calm.
“It was standing water, so yeah, it’s dangerous,” said Rager, “but if it was fast moving, it’d probably been the worst outcome.”
They got the police officer out safely. He was cold and wet, but okay. His cruiser, though, wasn’t so lucky. It is ruined.
So far they haven’t identified the rescued cop. But officials say his situation is a good reminder for drivers.
“It ain’t the first, and probably ain’t gonna be the last,” Rager said.
Right now, the team at Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Department are gearing up for more water rescues over the next few days, because rain keeps falling and the Mon River keeps rising.
For that reason, the Elizabeth Borough Swift Water Rescue Team held a training exercise Thursday night. It was planned well in advance, but with rain in the forecast and the expectation the Mon River will reach flood stage there on Sunday, the timing could not have been better.
“That’s all you see anymore, flooding,” said Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chad Rager. “Roadways getting flooded out and people getting trapped in their cars. This is why we train.”