Much of Warren County experienced flash flooding Monday, Aug. 26, due to a torrential rainfall with totals from 4 to 6 inches of rain. First responders were called to several locations for water rescues and downed power lines.
Migrant employees of Happy Apples, who live on South Three Street in Marthasville, watched the creek next to their residence rise at an alarming rate in the early morning hours. Pecan and Depot streets became impassible due to the rushing water.
“They came here to pick apples and ended up saving a life,” said Joette Reidy, owner of Happy Apples, who employs nearly 40 migrant workers to work in her Marthasville orchards. “We couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Five men in complete solidarity and without a second thought, raced to the help of another human being, at great risk to themselves.
As they watched the floodwaters creep up to the stairs on their home, Happy Apple employees noticed a vehicle traveling north on West South Street. Daniel Hurtado, Rito Juarez, Juan Delgado, Felipe Munos and Abad Hernandez watched in horror as the driver paused to look at the rising creek, then proceeded to drive into the floodwaters.
Delgado said it appeared the driver of the black Jeep was not familiar with Marthasville and missed the slight turn onto Pecan Street.
“He drove into it (the creek),” said Delgado. “He was spinning down the creek until he hit the bridge.”
All five of the men sprung into action. Hurtado and Juarez said they were just thinking about whether there were children in the car and how the accident could affect the family of the person in the vehicle.
The men waded through waist-deep water to approach the car. Munos said they told the man to “get out, get out,” but the man said he was unable.
“We never thought about the danger,” said Delgado. “Abad jumped in the back seat through a window the man opened, drug him out on the bridge side and passed him to Daniel.”
Hernandez said he wasn’t even thinking about anything but getting the driver out when he climbed into the car. He said the adrenaline rush of the moment kept him focused.
“At that moment, we just reacted naturally to help,” said Munos. “It didn’t matter the nationality. It was just instinct to help.”
The men said the driver appeared shocked and stunned and didn’t speak much as he tried to get his bearings. His identity was unknown, but the men thought he was from out of town. They said there were suitcases in the vehicle. Because first responders were already busy on other calls, help didn’t come for about a half hour.
“If it happened again, we would do it all over again,” said Juarez. “We hope people would do the same for us.”
None of the men were injured in the rescue, escaping with nothing but huge smiles on their faces. Delgado summed up the incident by saying, “You got life — you are lucky!”
The men are from Jalisco, San Luis Potosi and Victoria Tamaulipas, Mexico, and will return to their families in October.