MARION COUNTY — Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Kevin Cripps, and Kinmundy-Alma Kinmundy-Alma Firefighter Trevor White are being hailed as heroes for risking their own lives to save five teens clinging to trees in floodwaters after the truck they were in was swept away just east of Forbes State Park Saturday night.
The teens were attempting to cross a bridge over Skillet Fork Creek on Seavers Road nine miles southeast of Kinmundy when water covering the roadway carried the truck off the road and into floodwaters as the driver was attempting to back out of the flood.
The occupants were able to escape the truck by climbing through the windows and were saved from the current when they grabbed onto trees. One of the teens was able to make a call to 911, which was ultimately able to use the signal to locate the group.
Cripps had prepared earlier to possible flooding by placing two life jackets and some rope in his squad car. He responded to the call and was able to rescue the four teens closest to the road.
The fifth teen was further from the road and was more difficult to reach. Multiple ropes were tied together and Cripps and White worked their way out to the last teen.
None of the teens required hospital treatment.
A Patoka man is also being commended for rescuing a Mt. Vernon woman who had been swept off Willet Road near his home and was clinging to a tree in the floodwaters of the North Fork of the Kaskaskia River.
Chris Murray was sleeping when a 3 a.m. call from the Centralia Police Dispatch alerted him to the woman’s location just 200 feet south of his home.
Murray reportedly got up and first attempted to reach the woman with a backhoe, but quickly realized the water was too deep.
He then found an old John boat and with Patoka Firefighter Michael Thompson, entered the water and paddled the boat to the tree where they rescued the woman.
She was not injured in the ordeal.