(NECN: Jack Thurston, Montgomery, Vt.) - A driver in Montgomery, Vt. became stuck in rising floodwaters late Tuesday afternoon, and was rescued in dramatic fashion.
The woman was trying to drive on Longley Bridge Road, according to Vt. State Police, when the fast-moving torrent of water made the road impassable. "She's very lucky," said EMT Dean Scott, who responded to the scene as part of the Enosburgh, Vt. Ambulance Service. "Very lucky."
The Franklin County, Vt. Sheriff's Dept. said the driver let first responders know she headed down the road before any warnings were posted, unaware of how deep the water was, and unfamiliar with the terrain.
Cpl. Brendan McKenney said he was the first to arrive at the emergency and feared for the woman's life. He said he tied a rope around his waist, hooked it to a tractor a neighboring farmer used to ford the rapids, smashed the truck's window, and plucked the driver out. McKenney said he tied the woman to his body, and told her they were going to jump.
McKenney, who said he served with the U.S. Marines, remembered the pair was quickly overcome by the roaring water. "Once you hit that water, you're gone," he told reporters Wednesday. "We went right under. If we didn't have that rope and that tractor, we'd have been swept away."
Franklin County Sheriff's Dept. Capt. Jay Sweeny declined to identify the driver of the imperiled truck, but said she's at home recovering from minor injuries. "She's extremely grateful for the rescuers' efforts, which likely saved her life," Sweeny told reporters.
The first responders said they hope the incident serves as a reminder to never drive across a flooded road.
Rivers and streams are running high across much of Vermont, worsened by a one-two punch of heavy rain and a rapid melt-off of snow the past week. Portions of more than two-dozen roads were temporarily closed, according to a press release from the office of Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt.
Shumlin thanked first responders and transportation crews for their hard work Tuesday and Wednesday in adverse weather conditions that saw rain, snow, and ice in addition to flooding. "Our local and state law enforcement, search and rescue crews, transportation teams and so many others have been working around the clock to notify people in vulnerable areas of the danger, help them locate and reach safety, and then clean up and begin emergency repairs in the wake of the storm," Shumlin said in the news release.
Gov. Shumlin's office reminded Vermonters they can sign up to receive free severe weather updates through the service VT Alert. Click here for more information.