Fast work and quick thinking saved a 35-year-old Baxter Springs man after he was found trapped in an overturned SUV submerged in a freezing creek Thursday evening.
A passerby called 911 just after 7 p.m. when they saw the tail lights of an overturned Nissan SUV in a creek at Southwest 90th and Clem Road in Cherokee County, a news release said.
Deputies Noble Dobkins and Matt Hatfield along with Lt. Jack Getman of the Lola Township Fire Department said they could hear Wesley Woods screaming for help from inside the vehicle.
Freezing water had already begun to fill the SUV, the release said.
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Hatfield tried to get to Woods, but was unable to reach him in the waist-deep water. Dobkins then spotted a cable, which had been strung across the creek as part of a fence. He and Columbus firefighter Kale Kitterman were able to walk on the cable to get on top of the SUV, the release said.
But once on top of the vehicle, they realized the doors were locked and they still couldn’t reach Woods.
Firefighters began arriving to the creek and they connected a tow rope to one Dobkins and Kitterman already had. Using Hatfield’s patrol vehicle, they pulled the SUV onto its side. Crews were able to break one of the windows and they pulled Woods from the water.
A ladder was extended to the SUV and Woods was placed on a backboard. Rescuers passed him along until he was back on the road, the release said.
Woods was taken to a hospital in Joplin, Missouri, for injuries and a low core body temperature. Baxter Springs reached a low of 13 degrees on Thursday, according to weather reports.
He was released from the hospital as of Wednesday morning.
“There is no question, considering the frigid temperatures on Thursday night, this crash could have ended in a much more tragic way,” Sheriff David Groves said in a statement. “I’m proud of the quick thinking and courageous acts demonstrated by law enforcement and firefighters at the scene, which no doubt resulted in the saving of the driver’s life.”