IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (eastidahonews.com) -- As rain poured down Tuesday night and water rapidly rose under the D Street underpass, two Idaho Falls police officers came to the rescue of a woman and her young child inside a van.
The officers were called to the underpass around 7 p.m. for a report of two vehicles stuck and submerged in flood waters, according to an Idaho Falls Police Department Facebook post. When they arrived, occupants inside the cars had gotten out safely.
“As officers started to get cones out to block the roadway, a third vehicle attempted to enter the underpass,” the Facebook post says. “Officers Rosales and Hendry quickly went into the water and helped the driver and a child safely exit the vehicle.”
Body camera footage released by the department shows the officers telling the woman to take off her seatbelt and get out of the van as a child can be heard crying. Rosales and Hendry help the woman walk out of the rising waters before carrying the young child to safety.
“Within two minutes of the van entering the water, it was floating and filled at least half full with water as seen at the end of this video,” the Facebook post says. “Thank you to kind community members who did their best to help occupants of several vehicles around the community that got stuck in floodwaters during last night’s storm. Thank you to our officers who were out working, responding to calls like this along with criminal incidents, through this weather.”
Rosales, the main officer you see on camera, just graduated from POST and began working at the Idaho Falls Police Department this month. Hendry is his training officer.
The Idaho Falls Police Department added the following information Friday:
We’ve seen a couple common questions so let’s talk about them. First, why would someone drive into this? Anyone who was out driving in this storm will know that visibility was very poor. Water levels rose very quickly and took many drivers off guard. There were many cars throughout the city stuck in flood waters, in underpasses yes, but on regular streets too. For many drivers, by the time they realized the water was too deep, it was already too late, especially if they were turning into it as this driver was rather than driving straight towards something they could see. As stated above, even just 6 inches of water can be enough to stall someone’s car and a foot of water is enough to get a car floating. In an underpass, that elevation change happens very quickly. That’s why we, plus other first responders and city utility workers were out blocking roadways and especially underpasses and pushed out messages encouraging drivers to get off the roads and stay home.
Second, we applaud this driver for calmly following officers’ directions to exit the vehicle and move to a safe spot so that officers could get into the car to get the child out safely. Opening just the driver’s door was difficult with the weight of the water pushing against it. The officer was in a much better position to climb in through that door to reach the child, than the driver would have been had they stayed in the seat and tried to turn around to reach the child. Officers are specially trained and conditioned through their work to think quickly and make sound decisions in stressful situations. As they were deciding the best course of action, the driver may still have been processing that there was water outside their window. Following officers’ directions, trusting officers’ to get the child out, moving to a safe spot and being ready to receive and comfort their child is exactly what we hope any parent would do in this situation.