Just after 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 26, the Monarch Fire Protection District received a call for a water rescue near the intersection of Wild Horse Creek Road and Wild Horse Valley Road in Wildwood. Initial reports were that two vehicles were washed away in Wild Horse Creek and the occupants were missing.
According to a press release, one person’s vehicle became swamped while trying to cross water over the road, and the driver’s father came in another vehicle and attempted to help retrieve the first vehicle. The father went into the water and was swept into the rain-swollen creek, while his son got out and went to a nearby residence. The father was able to climb up a tree and out of the water on the other side of the creek, where he was able to communicate via his cell phone.
The Metro West Fire Protection District was also dispatched to a call for a water rescue in the area of Wild Horse Creek Road and Ossenfort Road approximately a half-mile away, which turned out to be the same incident. It was determined that access to the victim was best via the Monarch side of the scene, and resources for a swift-water rescue were utilized from there. Due to darkness it was difficult to locate the victim. Firefighters were assisted by several residents who were familiar with the lay of the land, the normal creek channel and various access points to the area of the victim.
The release states that once the victim was located, accessing him was extremely challenging due to the deep, rapidly-moving water along with floating and fixed obstacles in the water. Firefighters were concerned that the victim could suffer from extreme hypothermia and fatigue because he was wet and had been exposed to the rain and dropping temperature for an extended amount of time. Access was attempted from all sides, including from Babler State Park. Once rescuers reached the victim, he was secured with a rope and fitted with a personal floatation device before being transferred to a boat to bring him ashore. He was then evaluated by ambulance crews, transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and released.
“The diligent training, first-rate equipment and excellent teamwork by all personnel and agencies involved brought about the successful end to a situation that could very well have ended in a lost life – thank you to all who responded and assisted,” Monarch Fire Chief Chuck Marsonette stated.
Marsonette also advises that drivers should never attempt to cross water over a roadway during flooding conditions.
“It only takes a few inches of water to cause a vehicle to wash off the road and possibly into deeper water,” Marsonette said. “It’s not worth the risk.”
In addition to Metro West and the residents, Monarch was assisted by the West County Fire Protection District, the Boles Fire Protection District and the St. Charles City Fire Department.