Chireno swift water rescue team (Source: Chireno Volunteer Fire Department)
(Source: Chireno Volunteer Fire Department)
CHIRENO, TX (KTRE) -
Nacogdoches Public Works
Supervisor Dody Howard had his mind on the job while cleaning up after this
weekend's 10-inch torrential rainfall Monday. However, a swift water rescue he and co-worker
Josh Patton made early Sunday morning was also in his thoughts.
It happened Sunday morning on
Farm to Market Road 95, three miles south of Chireno at Lick Creek. A car got
swept away with two people in it.
"I was the first
rescue vehicle to pull up on the scene," Josh Patton, a Chireno volunteer
firefighter, said. We could see in the
swift moving water a guy bear hugging a tree at the base of the tree, water up
to about his neckline."
Howard said the man was so
distraught that they felt like they had to get him out of the water
"He was so
distraught when we got to him," Howard said.
In total darkness, enduring
fast moving water, Jimmy Pipes hung on a tree for over two hours. At sun-up
someone driving by with his or her car window down heard his call for help.
"And he was
already saying that he needed to let go," Patton said. "He was tired and had no
energy left at all. He needed to let go."
A highly trained swift water
rescue team from Nacogdoches was on its way, but the two volunteer firefighters
with no such training made the decision to go in after jimmy Pipes. Howard said
it would have been wise to wait, but they felt time was running out quickly.
"It would be a
wise idea to wait for 'em, but at that point in time he was exhausted, and we
were afraid that he was gonna go downriver," Howard said.
Patton said that sometimes, it
just takes courage to do what needs to be done.
"It don't take
training," Patton said. "Sometimes, it just takes more courage than what some
people realize they got."
Howard said he and
Patton secured Jimmy Pipes to a tree until they could get a life preserver on
Once on shore, Jimmy Pipes
shared details of the frightening
experience, knowing his daughter in law, Chanda Pipes, was nowhere in sight.
"He said he got
her out of the car, and he remembers going through the pipe and coming up
through the pipe," Howard said.
Chanda Pipes didn't survive. It's
a regret both men will have to deal with for the rest of their lives. However,
if Howard and Patton hadn't fought to save Jimmy Pipes' life, the Chireno-area
flooding might have resulted in two drowning deaths.
"This is what we
sign up to do, and the gratifying part is when you are able to save a life."
Patton said. "In that particular case, I really feel like had we not been
there, had we not shown up at that moment, we would have had two victims
instead of one."
They don't want to be called
heroes, but it's a recognition they earned for doing what had to be done.
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