UPDATE: Man safely rescued from W. Chickamauga Creek
By WRCB Staff
Water rescue teams thread their way through the dense brush to reach the West Chickamauga Creek Thursday WRCBtv.com photo
Sandy Nelson waiting for her husband to be rescued from the West Chickamauga Creek Thursday. WRCBtv.com photo
EAST RIDGE, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: A man is recovering from hypothermia after being rescued from a flooded creek in East Ridge.
"I really don't know what happened. I've been looking for him for about an hour," Sally Nelson said of her husband, Tim, who was stranded in the West Chickamauga Creek.
She said she waited for 30 minutes while East Ridge rescue crews readied their boats. Police found the homeless man clinging to a tree.
The couple was staying under a bridge on Ringgold Road when swift waters somehow swept the man 300 yards downstream.
"I don't know if he fell off the bridge or what. I don't know what happened," Nelson said.
"He may have been asleep and was overtaken by the water and didn't have time to react," explained Chief Mike Williams, East Ridge Fire Dept.
It took several minutes for crews to start the boat, and Hamilton County STARS was called in.
"Due to the high water, we wanted to make sure that we had plenty of resources," Williams said.
In less than an hour, crews were able to get the man back to dry land and transport him to a local hospital.
While everything turned out for the best, first responders say the waters are still dangerous.
"This is not like going to the Ocoee or Hiwassee River. We get into a flash flood situation here, this water can change rapidly," warned Williams.
The West Chickamauga creek has crested and is receding. At last check it was still measured at 13 feet, still two feet above flood stage. It will be Friday evening before water levels there return to normal.
PREVIOUS STORY: Rescue crews retrieved a man from the West Chickamauga Creek Thursday morning, using a combination of land and water rescue.
Rescuers could hear the man shouting from the water as they worked to safely reach and rescue him. Rescuers say the man is suffering from hypothermia after being in the water for nearly two hours; the air temperature was in mid-40's at the time.
Getting a rescue boat to the scene nearly an hour, since the specialized boat needed was located on Highway 58 and wouldn't start. Heavy brush at the rescue site hampered rescue efforts as well.
The man's wife, identified as Sandy Nelson, waiting on the banks of the creek as rescuers made their way to the man. The couple is described as transients, and were living under the bridge nearby.
Nelson went for coffee and when she returned, the man was in the water.
PREVIOUS STORY: East Ridge emergency personnel are working on the water rescue of a man in the West Chickmauaga Creek Thursday morning.
Crews are staging at 6733 Ringgold Road as they deploy crews and boats. Hamilton County STARS is on hand as part of the team on hand near the East Ridge Flea Market.
The creek, like other area waterways, is swollen from the heavy rains that hit the Tennessee Valley Wednesday morning.
The nearby South Chickamauga Creek is expected to crest at 20.5 feet later Thursday night. Flood stage is 18 feet.