Walker County Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief helps two in swift water rescue


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Walker County Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Eric Ashburn helped get two guys safely to the other side of a full Armuchee Creek Wednesday morning.

“When I’ve been out there in the past, it’s no more than 10 to 12 inches and when we were out there today we were, you know, 3 feet,” Assistant Chief Ashburn said.

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Ashburn said the men drove though the creek Tuesday afternoon on a road typically meant to cross the water.

“They had drove across in their vehicle and it had come up a little over halfway up their doors. They had pulled some water into their motor and basically gunned it in order to get out of the creek,” Assistant Chief Ashburn said.

Ashburn said the two weren’t able to drive back over, and because of the lack of cell phone service it wasn’t until the next morning that they found enough reception to dial 911.

“As nighttime got there, they hunkered down to make it through the cool evening. Come this morning they made their goal to make contact. So, they started climbing ridges until they could find cell phone service,” Assistant Chief Ashburn said.

After the guys were located, rescuers initiated a swift water rescue.

“Once we realized how deep the water was or had an idea of how the deep the water was and how fast the current was moving, we knew we wouldn’t be able to safely get one of our vehicles across and that just wouldn’t be a real safe route to send a swimmer safely in to them,” Assistant Chief Ashburn said.

A narrow section of the creek was found and a rope was thrown over to the two men.

Ashburn said they moved up the bank where the creek was around 100 feet across and using a winch cable, the guys were able to make back to the other side.

“There was places downstream from where they were at that they could’ve crossed logs that had fallen across the creek, but if they had slipped and fallen, I feel like at that point we would have had a very different story today,” Assistant Chief Ashburn said.

Ashburn said in Walker County the last time a firefighter got in water for a rescue was around five years ago.

He also added that water rescues are risky and can be dangerous.