QUARTZSITE — It sounds like a rescue out of the old West. Just like a cowboy, a local firefighter used a lasso to save a woman who was caught in the current of a wash during stormy weather.
It happened around 8:15 a.m. on Sept. 24. Quartzsite Fire Chief Kevin Hess said the woman was on her way to the Salome Food Bank at the Centennial Community Center and was driving on Centennial Park Road where it’s crossed by Centennial Wash. She tried to drive across the wash while it was running and her car got caught in the current.
“She didn’t think the water was that deep,” Hess said. “It is very deceptive. It is also quite wide, which gives the impression that the water isn’t moving that fast, and conceals the depth. There are no signs there to indicate the depth either. The water was still rising even as we brought her out to the road.”
With her car flooding, the woman got out of the car and clung to some branches that hung over the wash. Hess said he arrived on the scene after his son, Spencer, and a Department of Public Safety Trooper, Ryan Hoffer, were already on the scene. Although Chief Hess had rope in his Fire Chief’s car, Spencer remembered he had his lariat in the back of his pick-up truck.
Chief Hess, Spencer and Trooper Hoffer located the woman and put a rescue plan into effect.
“Spencer had her hold up her arm and, yes as a true cowboy would, he did lasso her,” Chief Hess said. “He and the DPS Officer pulled her through the raging water to safety. I just held on to her hand and led her through the thick salt cedar trees so she could keep her footing as we led her out to the road (because I am the old guy). However it is always a great feeling when a rescue goes well. God is good!”
Chief Hess said people should remember that driving through a wash when it’s running is never a good idea.
“I guess the take home is, if a wash is running, just turn around,” he said. “Raging water has no conscience, it is like fire. It’s merely inconvenient to turn back. I pray every time it storms.”