LILBURN, Ga. - Some Gwinnett County firefighters are being called heroes after performing a dramatic rescue during Saturday night's severe weather. Video of the swift water rescue has been viewed thousands of times since the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services posted it on the department's Facebook page.
Occupants of the submerged vehicle called 911 for help, after they became trapped on a bridge by rising floodwaters. The first Gwinnett County fire crew dispatched to Hillcrest Road in Lilburn quickly assessed the situation.
Gwinnett County Fire Lt. Ben Pierce, one of the department's swift water rescue technicians told FOX 5's Deidra Dukes, "The crew on scene was able to reach them via telephone and talk to them and knew that medically and physically they were OK."
But the occupants of the vehicle were in real trouble. Lt. Pierce described the scene.
"When we got on scene, we realized time was really of the essence. The water was rising and we needed to be able to act fast. Their vehicle was approximately 75 feet from dry land and by the time we were actually ready and deploying our two swift water rescue technicians to the vehicle, it was getting close to window level on the driver side so it had risen significantly."
Pierce said the rescue operation was made more challenging in the dead of night, with storm debris swirling in the churning waters. Firefighters knew they had to move fast to get those trapped out of the car. The water had pushed the vehicle up against the guard rail. Two team members went in the water, bringing the stranded motorist and passenger to shore. Then, as they were cleaning up and getting ready to go back into service, they noticed a flashlight on the other side of the creek, which appeared to be a distress call. Firefighters discovered eight residents trapped in a nearby home and carried them to safety.
Fire officials said Saturday's incidents serve as a somber reminder of how quickly the weather can take a dangerous turn, and encourage the public to visit the county's website and follow the department's social media accounts for important safety information.
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